A year after singer Akon laid the first stone of the $6 billion futuristic city he vowed to build for his native Senegal, the site remains grassland.
The stone itself sits at the bottom of a dirt track in a field; a small placard advertising the megaproject has fallen off it.
Construction of “Akon City,” a project due to feature ultramodern twisting skyscrapers, was already meant to have begun near the Atlantic Ocean village of Mbodiene.
But building work is yet to start, prompting residents who were hoping for jobs to wonder about its future.
“They laid the foundation stone with a lot of speeches and promises,” said Jules Thiamane, a 35-year-old local who works in the tourism industry.
Akon — a Senegalese-American singer-songwriter best known for his R&B hits such as “Smack That” — launched his eponymous city in September 2020, to great fanfare and international media attention.
The city’s otherworldly design is partly inspired by Wakanda, he said at the time, referring to the fictional African city of the “Black Panther” Marvel movie and comic series.
Akon City’s planners also say it will be a “beacon of innovation and human development” that will boost industry in the West African state of Senegal.
A stadium, casino, luxury high-rise apartment complexes, and an education district that will “accommodate the most prestigious universities in the world” are also part of the plans.
David Seck Sene, president of the village youth association, admitted there was confusion around the delays but said: “I still have hope. I don’t see how a project like this could stop tomorrow.”