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IoT to increase Internet penetration in Nigeria, South Africa to 600m


IoT-Growth-IoT progression as depicted by IDC

Faster adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) in Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and other sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries is expected to increase the region’s Internet penetration by over 50 per cent.

Currently, Africa’s Internet penetration, according to InternetWorldStats, is 28.6 per cent and 331 million users.

This, according to SAP, while the continent is no stranger to connectivity and may be behind when it comes to IT infrastructure compared to more developed nations, the fact is that more than double the population of SSA has mobile phone access.

SAP, a market leader in enterprise application software, pointed out that with smartphone usage on the up and IT literacy expanding, bringing IoT level connectivity is a natural progression for this tech-hungry continent.

Managing Director, SAP Africa, Brett Parker, said the IoT should be considered more than just technology. “Rather, it is an ecosystem of products and services – from software to cloud technology – where effective connectivity adds real business value. This derived value presents an exciting prospect for the region. It also has the potential to drive significant economic growth and, in time, bring African IT up to speed with the rest of the world.”

Parker observed that the adoption of IoT solutions across Africa is not a farfetched idea, adding “research from McKinsey estimates that Africa will have tripled its Internet penetration to over 50 per cent, the equivalent of 600 million regular Internet users – by 2025. It’s also predicted that the potential of the IoT in developing countries is huge, with such nations to be accountable for 40 per cent of the worldwide value of the IoT market by 2020.”

Currently, the SAP Africa MD said 15 per cent of the global population resides in Africa, adding that more than half of global population growth from now until 2050 is expected to stem from the continent, which means having a global, connected system is crucial.

According to him, the IoT has the potential to solve many of the issues the continent is currently facing. He said many African countries have already embarked on the IoT journey.

“Healthcare providers in Ethiopia are monitoring the health status of outpatients to better adjust treatment. Intelligent traffic lights in Nairobi are helping ease traffic congestion. Utility providers in South Africa are using load-limiting smart meters that can warn residents ahead of imminent controlled outages. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), satellite imagery, DNA analysis and apps are being used as part of conservation efforts – by predicting poaching attempts and monitoring wildlife,” he stated.

He said IoT potential is limitless, stressing that as technology advances and encroaches upon most people’s day-to-day lives in some shape or form, people can expect more IoT enabled solutions that address the unique issues facing Africa.

Parker disclosed that Agriculture is a vital, yet struggling, industry; SSA has 95 per cent of arable land that is dependent on rainfall-fed agriculture, meaning that food crop productivity is often low, with food insecurity a constant issue.

“This is where the IoT can help: wireless sensors can track crop growth, soil moisture and water tank levels. Unmanned vehicles can reduce physical labour. The result will be better yields at a lower cost,” he stated.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, food production must increase by 60 per cent to be able to feed the growing population expected to hit nine billion in 2050.

He informed that SAP helped John Deere, where he took IoT into the field and boosting efficiencies with the goal of improving per-acre crop yield, adding that they are using Big Data to step into the future of farming.

“Overall connectivity is clearly an important enabler. As it stands, many African nations fall short in this area. Yet the lack of a legacy infrastructure can actually be beneficial for Africa. Instead of gradual tech upgrades, the continent can jump ahead into new technologies in ways more developed countries cannot. This also means that the decisions of those spearheading change now are likely to impact the solutions of the future.

“There is no question: the IoT is coming to Africa and African businesses cannot ignore it. For now, having the right mindset to embrace innovation is crucial. Added to this, being aware of the inevitable security challenges, and being able to articulate the return on investment to fellow board members will be key skills when pushing for a new tech ecosystem. For a continent fuelled by its entrepreneurial spirit, the prospect of an IoT enabled future presents an exciting period to come,” SAP noted.

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