Fact Check: Akon Lighting Africa

Saw a friend posted a photo claiming Akon had provided solar power to 600 million Africans, but the media was not going to tell you about it. It also questioned what is it the NGOs are doing.

This was an amazing claim, so I went looking into it. “Akon solar power” led me to his company Akon Lighting Africa. The key figures on the home page look much more modest with 100K street lamps, 1,200 micro-grids, and 102K domestic kits. The initial claim was that there were 600M without access to electricity. It does not look like it has put a dent in that number, much less the goal of 80 million people. The company was founded in 2014.

In 2015 they claimed to have provided solar power to about 8 million people (using the average household size of 8.7 people in Senegal rounded down; used average household size for Senegal as that is where Akon is from and started).

As of 2016, they claimed to have helped 1.5M lives.

Source: Twitter search for “from:AkonLighting million

Hopefully 1 million households in the first one should have been lives to make it consistent. Otherwise, in 2016 there was a huge backslide.

Let’s unpack the current numbers on the website.

  • 102K domestic kits = 887.4K lives
  • It is not clear what the micro-grid means, but the website has photos of charging stations attached to a set of solar cells. That could mean about 600K additional people counted not with power in their home, but able to visit a charging station to charge up a device to bring home.
    • My interpretation of micro-grid would be a network of homes connected to a grid. It would also power the street lamps.

Eviction filings to collect late rent

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of eviction filings from Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties found that more than a third of the 1 million cases filed since 2010 were serial filings — filings made within a year of one another at the same property, against a tenant with the same name. The AJC found more than 70,000 cases where renters got three or more eviction notices at the same property…

Falling behind one month often leads to a grueling cycle of repeat filings and eviction fees, leaving a tenant thousands of dollars in the hole with a ruined financial record in the process. Tenants carry those filings with them, making it harder to rent somewhere else, even if they were never actually evicted.

This probably is not solely an Atlanta thing. My guess is cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and DC where affordable housing is becoming a crisis problem as rents are skyrocketing. Amazon HQ2 coming to Atlanta would probably make the problem much worse. Though, 20% of rental households experiencing this makes worse seem unfathomable.

My guess is tenants sign a lease near the 30% household income which is the legal threshold. I wonder if landlords are required to recheck household income as they annually raise rents? If not, people could be fine the first couple years, but end up in a situation where they are no longer able to afford their home because rents are going up 19% a year where hourly wages are 4% a year.

The company noted in the story has about half their tenants with serial filings. For them to be serial filings, they are allowing these people to stay. Probably not because they have hearts of gold, but because turning out half your tenants means you will have vacant units which earn you no income.

Skynet for school shooting prediction

This sounds likely to be fraught with false positives.

In particular, the language a student uses during an interview can help distinguish a high-risk teenager [shooter] from a low-risk one, according to previous research Barzman directed. That study concluded that the former was more likely to express negative feelings about himself and about the acts of others. He also was more likely to talk about violent acts involving himself and violent video games or movies.

My clique in high school were the metalheads, barely passing nerds, and social rejects. Self-deprecation was the basis of our humor. Violent video games or movies was the basis of our media consumption. The only one of us every accused of fighting was a case of mistaken identity as the first and last (not middle) names matched the very common actual guy of another race.

Artificial intelligence is the tool of choice for this kind of stuff. I hope the research is light years ahead of where this article describes it.

MS-13

Donald Trump references an international gang as the reason to secure the southern United States border. He claims the porous border allows members of this gang to enter the country at will.

The refugees trying to enter through the southern border are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. MS-13 dominate these countries. The refugees are fleeing the violence of this gang and the inability of their country’s leaders to deal with the gang.

I guess the question then is why is MS-13 so entrenched in these countries? Well, in the 1980s, Salvadoran immigrants to the US during their civil wars ended up in Los Angeles. In protecting their people from the American gangs, they created their own who were deported to El Salvador. Weak governments were unable to control the gangs who consolidated into MS-13. In a nutshell, though, MS-13 was created in the US and exported to Central America where it has become a disaster and is coming back to hit us in the face. The sad part to me is that President Trump is all about deporting every member of MS-13 when deportation is what made them so powerful.

The United States is probably not a good place for refugees to come as MS-13 has a strong presence here. In fearing sons being recruited in CA, coming to the USA means they will be recruited here. MS-13 is also allied with the Sinaloa cartel, whose territory is along much of Mexico near the border with the USA, so staying in the camps outside the USA means facing the risk of MS-13 finding you there too.

Wonder if the United Nations considers the issue bad enough that they might get to go to places which are not in North or Central America?

Wellness Allergy

Work has a wellness program. One component involves a website that purports to educate users about healthy eating. The funny thing to me is that I was not going to participate at all until I found out that had potentially an allergy issue. So, I thought, why not try it? Maybe it can provide some ideas on things I can eat that are healthy?

Well, apparently healthy foods are allergy foods. It recommends eating more fish, nuts, soy, eggs, cheese*, whole wheat instead of unhealthy foods. Exactly the things that are likely allergens.

Yes, I know it is cow’s milk that is a possible allergen, so goat’s or sheep’s milk likely is fine.

MLM mashup with political tribalism

A very conservative friend shared a rant I’ve seen in the past. No big deal. Curiously, though, at the end (under the See More break) was a piece of text not consistent with the rest.

If You Want True Financial Freedom and Not Have to Worry about This Contact Me and I’ll Show You a Way To Be financially FREE in Five Years Private Message Me or Send Me an Email At xxxxxxxx@gmail.com

I did a search on the email and found some interesting things. There are several Facebook pages associated with it. A web site that looks like a cheap Multi-Level Marketing scam. Basically, they claim to have you invest your money in their products (as crowdfunding), you provide the labor of the marketing of the products, and you establish an eCommerce presence to sell the products. Then you make “reverse royalty payments.”

If royalty payments are you the seller paying the intellectual property owner, then reverse royalty payments are supposed to be the IP owner paying you, the crowdfunding investor?

It smelled foul.

Leveraging political tribalism has gotten this particular post 289,770 shares. That aspect is just amazingly brilliant. Hopefully, it just creates enough outrage that people do not actually read it enough to fall for the scam.