In our backyard, African and African American Entrepreneurs have come together to give back to the society through building a new city in Ghana. Revealing the aim of the project, a shareholder and board member, Kofi Anku described the Ayi Mensah Park initiative as a Corporate Social Responsibility. He further disclosed that although he was born in Ohio, USA to Ghanaian parents, the decision to build a vibrant 200-unit townhouse community located at the foot of Aburi Hills, Accra, Ghana was primarily to connect the two worlds. Anku also noted that his family which has invested in real estate as far back as the 90s has his back on the noble enterprise.
The mission of new city is to help people to love where they live. What is more, under the development of IndigoHomes which is a division of BlackIvy, it is hoped that Ghanaians would have access to a lively, secure and moderately-priced household system which further provides the icing on the cake of Greater Accra. While revealing that the secret behind his humanitarian work in Ghana is traced to the vision that Malcolm X had for Black Americans and African unity, the entrepreneur stressed that the initiative aspires to canvass for more collaboration among Black Businesses which if backed by humanitarian support would create greater opportunities in Ghana and across Africa.
From Ghana to Senegal, the story is same where the Artiste, Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam has revealed plans for his 2000-acre, cryptocurrency-powered “Akon City.” It will be a “100% crypto-based city with AKoin at the center of transactional life,” a statement noted. Described as a “real life Wakanda,” the novel city is set to run on solar power. The singer who owns two record labels plus a charity known as Akon Lighting Africa said: “When I travel, I see so many things that happen – so many people that need assistance and so many things that just need to be resolved – and if you can have a billion dollars sitting in the bank while you have all these people suffering and struggling?”
In this part of the world that is often described as the Dark Continent, Akon has vowed to provide electricity to 600 million people in Africa. His project Akon Lighting Africa has provided “scaled solar power solutions throughout 18 countries to date in Africa.” Part of his plan is for the “futuristic city” to be “renewable.” The Entertainer who revealed that the Akon-tainment solar city will be a real physical place explained that it would have a real airport and gulp a billionaire to execute. The city which is five-minutes’ drive to the airport will be built on a 2,000 acres of land donated to him by the President of Senegal. The project which is expected to span through 10 years will be completed in 2025.
Back at home, only about 7.19 percent of employed Nigerians can buy a house. This means that 64.54 million people who earn less than N3 million cannot afford a home of their own except there is an increase in their income level. The lack of implementation of the minimum wage makes matters worse. Accordingly, the Association of Housing Corporation of Nigeria (AHCN), an umbrella organization for all federal and state housing agencies, has decried that “the underdevelopment of Nigeria mortgage sector in driving homeownership is worrisome as more than 90 percent of new homes utilise funds from personal savings for incremental construction.” While we are trapped in this mess, many Nigerians are smiling to the bank and travelling across the globe with lavish spending.
Not long ago, Top10 Magazine released the list of top 10 philanthropists who commit a substantial part of their wealth for humanitarian services in the country as – Aliko Dangote, founder of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Rochas Okorocha, founder of Rochas Foundation, Tony Elumelu, founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation, Jim Ovia, founder of Jim Ovia Foundation, Theophilus Y. Danjuma, founder of TY Danjuma Foundation and Emeka Offor, founder of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation; others include – Oba Otudeko, founder of Oba Otudeko Foundation, Folorunso Alakija, founder of Rose of Sharon Foundation, Muhammadu Indimi, founder of Mohammadu Indimi Foundation and Subomi Michael Balogun, founder of Otunba Tunwase Foundation. The Magazine claimed that it used criteria such as “the size of their foundations, track record of activities, the volume of interventions, the strategic importance of areas of focus and evidence of impact created in the society by their foundations” to arrive at the top ten humanitarians.
These large-hearted Nigerians may have done a lot in terms of giving back to society in different sectors. However, challenges associated with inadequate housing have continued to stare us in the face. Perhaps we need the Ankus and Akons to change the putrid narrative of Nigerians who live in squalors by giving them a new lease of life. The cheering news “Archbishop Okeke donates house to physically challenged girl, Ada Aniwetalu at Nteje Oyi Council Area” has flooded the Nigerian media space. According to the story “In view of the need to provide her with a living apartment conducive for her personal development and studies, the Archbishop brought the plight of the girl and the proposed project to the attention of some individuals who contributed monies with which the project was realized in record time.” The heroic incident took place at Umuazu Nteje community in Oyi Council Area of Anambra State.
Like food and clothing, shelter remains a fundamental requirement of life which Abraham Maslow lists in his hierarchy of needs. Experts have insisted that good housing creates a sense of pride and security. Owning a home equally creates a high level of fulfillment. Although policy review, restructuring and innovative mortgage packages have been recommended as pragmatic ways of proving affordable housing for low-income earners in the country, it is crucial for all stakeholders to put hands on deck to bridge the housing deficit in the country. To this end, while the huge donations from the likes of Aliko Dangote, Femi Odetola et al towards cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is commendable, Nigerian badly need contemporary Ankus and Akons who would invest in real estate for the sake of the vulnerable. That way, they would be killing two birds with a stone – Building mega cities across Nigeria and putting a smile on someone’s face in the mould of Archbishop Valerian Okeke. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.