African music will form the foundation of Nigeria's expanded ThisDay festival, which begins in Lagos on July 13 with Senegal's Youssou N'Dour leading the charge.

Organizers report that this year's third annual event at the ThisDay Center will see the festival expand out of its base in the Nigerian city to include a leg in Abuja, Nigeria on July 11 plus one each in Washington and London.

The festival, offering a mix of music, fashion and arts, is sponsored by ThisDay, a leading Nigerian newspaper that claims a readership of five million.

The newspaper also maintains a bureau in Washington where its first international festival will be staged at the Kennedy Center on Aug. 1. This will be followed by a concert at London's Royal Albert Hall on Oct. 14.

In a statement, organizers said that the 2008 festivals would be centered around an "Africa Rising" theme, focused on "finding "sustainable solutions" rather than the "problems" facing Africa".

Jay-Z, Usher, Mary J Blige, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Fat Joe, Naomi Campbell, Oluchi, Tyson Beckford, Youssou N'Dour, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek, Ozwald Boateng, Chris Aire, 9ICE and Shank are confirmed to take part in the events, although it is uncertain at which of the four "Africa Rising" events each act will participate.

"Right now the international community seems to be dealing with the symptoms not the problems of Africa," comments ThisDay's editor-in-chief Nduka Obaigbena in a statement. "The symptoms are poverty and disease, but the problem is lack of social and physical infrastructure. This initiative is to highlight the need to focus sustainable solutions on the problems through massive investment in infrastructure and microfinance in order to rebuild Africa from the ground up."