What is really exciting with new technologies is that some evolution can be sometime revolution, especially in Africa. Cell phone for instance, took a long time to evolve in Europe, from early attempt (‘Radiocom 2000’, BeBop in France) to GSM, and then UMTS. In most of Africa countries, which were totally uncovered with fixed phone, GSM and UMTS was a technology gap: 40 years has been catch up, and now most of the African countries are well covered, and people have probably a better access to telecommunication than electricity! I am quite sure that in many of top African cities there much more smartphone per habitant than in Europe.
This jump generated a lot of creativity in related services, the biggest one being mobile money, which is much stronger in Africa than in any other continent. But there are plenty of others services, mainly SMS based.
I think that that it will be the same for the Internet of things, or connected object. With new innovations coming in this space, and due to the current status of ‘connectivity’ in Africa, and thanks to the fact that low bandwidth technologies like Sigfox or LoRa will reduce connectivity costs.
Some area that could really boom with IOT :
• Agriculture : This is usually the biggest part of the economy, with numerous smaller actors. Low cost object will be useful to provide feedback on fields parameters, for self-system irrigation for instance.
• Government infrastructure: it’s very hard to monitor all infrastructures deployed, and due to hard climatic condition there is usually a fast degradation. IOT could help them to monitor such infrastructure and be warned when they need to do something.
• Security : security is usually a big problem in emerging country. Connected object will allows to provide real time position of persons and goods (like containers, trucks, …) and will allow to trigger alarms that informs of an immediate danger.
• Medical : usually poorly developed, connected object would help to provide real time information on patients, and could allows remote infrastructure to be better handled.
Even if the relative price of connected object will be high compared to the average salary, the added value in these countries is much higher than in many of eastern ones.
I think that African government should support efforts in this direction, and push operators to deploy the needed infrastructure to cover all rural area, and this will push forward Africa in the 21st century.
Of course, there are plenty of related challenges, the biggest one being the access to the electricity but momentum is here.