The Internet of Things has already made an impact on Africa as the emergence of connected hardware takes off.
Every area of life stands to benefit from the innovations and efficiencies possible in a fully connected world.
The Internet of Things is the next great revolution in global industry, technology, and life. The increasing communication and interconnection of every object around us will have a non-quantifiable impact on every element of life.
The greater recording and real time transmission of vast amounts of data regarding the world around us will allow for a faster moving, more developed, and increasingly efficient and personalised world.
The transformative effects of the internet of things on western society and developed economies are well established and don’t need to be rehashed. Instead, it will be great to take a look at something less explored.
What impact will the internet of things have on societies and economies that are not developed, and have not experienced the same technological revolutions others have.
How will Africa be affected by this revolution and how can the internet of things do things for people across the continent that previous developments in technology failed to?
In previous years we’ve read a lot about how Internet of Things could force many businesses to completely redefine their traditional value chains.
By making traditionally physical and disconnected processes digital and connected, products and services could be processed and delivered in completely new ways. All that meant the traditional value chains could be totally redefined.
Here we are early 2019. The continent of Africa, home to about 1.3 billion people (16.6% of the world population), has been developing gradually across the board over the years, with some nations (such as South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago and many others) being further ahead of others. And yet issues persist.
Much of the population are forced to survive on little money, without access to basics such as healthcare, water, food, electricity, and education, and many nations are rife with corruption.
With that in mind, exactly how much will the internet of things change on a continent bereft of basic infrastructure in many places, without strong internet?
Will there be any change as a result? Will the internet of things finally be the generational change that people across Africa need for a better standard of living? Or will it be a phenomenon confined to the already advanced West?
The ultimate question is; can the internet of things bring added development to Africa?
What is the Internet of Things
To move on, we need to first understand what the internet of things is, the capabilities of it, and how it will change each African life.
The internet of things describes the phenomenon of more and more objects being connected to the internet, allowing them to record, share, transmit, and receive data, as well as be remotely programmed.
By 2018 It was thought that by 2020 there could be as many as 27.3 billion objects connected to the internet of things, including household appliances, vehicles, wearable objects, and things across towns and cities, including streetlights, and even parts of buildings (One could arguably agree that the world is almost there).
That is a vast number of objects that will be internet connected, and it will change the way we live, from the ability to switch the heating on automatically, to airport managers using real time data to create quick changes and speed up passage.
The opportunities for Africa
It could actually present a set of promising and exciting opportunities for African states. The weakness of existing digital infrastructure, and low levels of industrialisation, could put the continent in a unique position.
Much of the West, whilst they have the economic resources and robust infrastructure, to adopt internet of things technology, is also significantly handicapped.
In order to adopt the new methods and to embrace internet of things capabilities, Western governments and companies must first overhaul their existing digital infrastructure. African Governments don’t have this problem.
Starting fresh with the new technology gives Africa an agility not found in the West. Much of Western infrastructure must be redeveloped and upgraded before being able to support internet of things communication, whereas African countries can build afresh with connections suited to managing the internet of things.
An example of an african company taking advantage of this is JONGO HUB in Cameroon
The lack of existing infrastructure is actually Africa’s strength, no its weakness. It is a continent that is, economically, on the move, with reforming Governments beginning to appear across the length and breadth of Africa, and a growing middle class.
The internet of things, if explored quickly, could be the great breakthrough for African industry, and could put Africa at the forefront of this revolution.
The unique flexibility of the continent could make them the world leader in internet of things technology, and a more prosperous African future could be forged in the continent’s internet of things revolution