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Akon Music Video Focuses Attention on Energy Access for All

Africa has received its first football pitch with lighting powered by the kinetic energy of the players — and to celebrate, Akon teamed up with DJ Hardwerk to produce a new music video, “Tell Me We’re OK”.

Hardwerk and Akon publicity photograph, courtesy of Shell

The video was released earlier this month in collaboration with Shell to highlight the increasing need to provide innovative options for access to smarter energy for people in Africa, the international energy company said in a news release.

“Akon is using his music to highlight the need to spark a real conversation around access to energy, something that Shell has supported for the last 30 years, helping thousands of entrepreneurs through programmes like Shell LiveWIRE and Shell Springboard. These schemes are part of the #makethefuture initiative and support entrepreneurs with smart and innovative ideas that help to meet the energy needs of a fast-growing population,” the company explained.

The video features footage shot last year at the launch of Africa’s first human and solar powered football pitch in Lagos, Nigeria, the result of Shell’s global #makethefuture program to put bright energy ideas into action around the world.  “Akon, himself a strong supporter of entrepreneurs and technology that provides clean and affordable energy solutions, joined Shell at the launch in a joint effort to promote innovative energy solutions,” the company release said.

Laurence Kemball-Cook was a winner of the Shell awards program in 2011 and his company, Pavegen, developed the floor tiles that convert kinetic energy from footsteps into energy on the Nigerian football pitch featured in Akon’s music video. He joined Shell and Akon in December last year to officially open the pitch at the Federal College of Education, Akoka, in Lagos, which was fitted with more than 90 underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players.

The pitch was built with kinetic tiles developed by Pavegen, a UK energy start-up which has been a recipient of Shell LiveWIRE funding, and was founded by entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook. The tiles below the pitch capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. This energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the pitch. This is then converted into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving the students a guaranteed solution for playing on the football pitch at night as well as safer and securer community space. Illustration courtesy of Shell
The pitch was built with kinetic tiles developed by Pavegen, a UK energy start-up which received funding from Shell LiveWIRE funding, and was founded by entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook. The tiles below the pitch capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. This energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the pitch. This is then converted into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving the students a guaranteed solution for playing on the football pitch at night as well as safer and securer community space. Illustration courtesy of Shell.
Shell makethefuture Lagos 1
Courtesy of Shell

“Every year we have hundreds of applications for support from the Shell LiveWIRE and Shell Springboard programmes and we are proud to help fund some of the brightest ideas that will help solve the energy challenges of the future. In 2014 we worked with football icon Pele to launch the world’s first human and solar powered football pitch in Morro da Mineira, Brazil. This year, we are continuing to support bright ideas to help provide access to energy through a solar project in Rio de Janeirio and a light powered by gravity in Kenya,” said Malena Cutuli, Shell Global Head of Integrated Brand Communications and Capability.

Courtesy of Shell
Courtesy of Shell

“Akon is a natural ambassador for the project as he is renowned for his passion for bright energy ideas, most notably through his Akon Lighting Africa initiative, which develops solar-powered energy solutions that bring clean and affordable sources of energy to more than one million people across Africa,” Shell said.

Shell was the inaugural sponsor of the National Geographic Great Energy Challenge, which included supporting ten global “Big Energy Question” events focusing on the challenges and solutions to providing sustainable energy for all.

Lagos Football Pitch Specifications

A similar pitch built over a year ago in Rio de Janeiro has had a lasting impact on its community.

Football Pitch Dimensions:

  • 672.75 square metres, 19.5m x 34.5m

Tile Specifications:

  • 96 tiles have been arranged in 6 rows of 16
  • Tile details:
    • Length – 600mm
    • Width – 450mm
    • Height – 56mm
    • Weight – 19kg
  • The tile’s base uses 80% recycled materials
  • The tiles work together with solar panels to power 6 LED floodlights surrounding the pitch
  • The tiles, lighting, solar and power management equipment was installed in five days by a team of six people
  • A layer of Astro Turf has been placed on top of a sheet of Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) on the tiles to ensure the look and feel of a football pitch
  • Each tile has a drainage channel to manage water flow away from the pitch
  • 5-year warranty package for all pitch materials and tiles

Solar Panel Specification:

  • A single 2 kilowatt peak (kWp) array-roof solar panel, consisting of 8 x 250w Photovoltaic modules
  • Solar panel mounted on power management hut alongside football pitch
  • 25-year linear performance warranty

LED Lighthead Specification (ARENA-300 Floodlight):

  • The 300 Watt floodlight provides energy saving with a high lumen output of 28,000 lumens
  • Low energy consumption and a long working life span cuts the requirement for continuous lighting maintenance
  • 12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

    He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

    Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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