Akpala is a product of the Pepsi Football Academy in Lagos. His first professional contract came in April 2003 with Bendel United Football Club, a Division One club in Benin City. He later joined Bendel Insurance FC, Benin City in the Premier Division of the Nigerian Professional League, in February 2005. He was to finish as joint top scorer with 13 goals in 19 games.
Akpala was then signed by the Royal Charleroi Sporting Club in the Belgian Jupiler League in January 2006. He wore the no 27 jersey. He had a very successful campaign in the 2007–08 Belgian League as he topped the scorers chart with 18 goals. On 18 July 2008, Akpala joined Club Brugge signing a contract until 2013.
On 22 August, Werder Bremen signed Akpala after facing competition from West Ham United and Celtic.