Akon speaks at the Powering Africa Summit in 2016. The rapper is currently in Gambia to bring solar energy to isolated populations within the country. AkonlightingAfrica.com

This week’s most important headlines out of and about Africa.

In this week’s news, Akon brings light to Gambia, and a new sickle cell treatment brings hope to millions.

Akon Arrives In Gambia

Rapper Akon arrived in the Gambia this week as part of his “Akon Lighting Africa” initiative. He will meet with Gambian President Adama Barrow before launching a solar power project in the country.

He will also meet with local young people as part of a youth empowerment program called “‘the Role of Young People in Building a New Gambia.”

Akon, who was born in the United States but raised primarily in Senegal, has made it a personal goal to bring electricity to millions of people throughout the African continent, particularly to those in rural or isolated areas. According to the initiative’s website, the project has so far brought power to 480 communities in 15 countries.

Gene Therapy Cures Sickle Cell In Patient

A group of scientists in Paris have used gene therapy to cure sickle cell anemia in a teenage patient. The patient was treated over the course of 15 months, and according to tests no longer shows any signs or symptoms of the disorder. Follow-up testing will need to be completed, but scientists are hoping that this cure can be commercially available to those suffering from the disease within 5 years.

While commercial access to the cure is still a long ways off, the news brings hope to those suffering from the disease and their loved ones. Among those who are feeling a renewed sense of hope is Sia Evelyn Nyandemo, who lost two children to the disease and is currently caring for a third. Nyandemo was originally from Senegal, but moved to London to seek better medical care for her daughter. Her story is not unique in Africa: sickle cell anemia is one of the most common genetic disorders on the continent.

If further tests are successful and the treatment is released to patients, it could drastically reduce infant mortality in the continent.


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