The Locked Up hitmaker has taken a step back from music in recent years to focus on his passion project, the Akon Lighting Africa company, which he co-founded in 2013 to provide electricity to some of the continent's most impoverished rural areas.

He has since expanded his firm's charity efforts to Latin America, while also setting up the Solar Academy in Mali to teach engineers how to harness the power of the sun's energy.

Now Akon has opened up about how he managed to make his solar dream a reality, revealing the key was securing extensive funding from one of China's biggest companies.

During a recent interview on VladTV, Akon, who grew up in Senegal, revealed he switched his focus on providing solar power to the masses after realising how political Africa's electricity industry was.

He explained, "I started to realise how deep it (politics) was 'cause this is the type of business that starts real wars; the politics was a little heavier than I expected."

Akon sought out business partners in China and struck a deal with bosses at one leading solar product company to reuse their items to build solar panels in Africa: "I went to China, met up with some friends out there, some manufacturers, and aligned myself with one of the biggest companies in China, that's owned by the Chinese government, that manufactures solar (products)."

His efforts have since given 16 million Africans access to electricity and the singer is determined to boost that figure to 80 million within the next 10 years.

"Without electricity, you can't even begin to develop a country, let alone your own home," said Akon.