IoT in Africa: 4 Key Use Cases

South Africa IoT

From vast savannas to bustling megacities, the Internet of Things (IoT) is quietly revolutionising Africa.

This transformative technology is no longer just a futuristic concept – it’s offering practical solutions that address real challenges across the continent.

By connecting everyday objects to the internet, IoT is driving economic growth, improving access to vital resources, and enhancing lives in various sectors like agriculture, healthcare, and energy production.

In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the exciting world of IoT in Africa, highlighting some impressive real-world examples that showcase its potential to shape a brighter future.

Africa IoT

What are the Benefits of IoT Adoption in Africa?

IoT adoption in Africa has provided businesses across a wide range of sectors with many benefits, including:

  • Asset tracking
  • Security solutions
  • Enhanced healthcare
  • Energy optimisation
  • Fleet management
  • Waste management
  • EV charge point infrastructure
  • Support for critical infrastructure

Moreover, as trade and transport networks continue to expand, more companies are working internationally and are looking for efficient ways to monitor their assets and products in transit.

IoT solutions are helping businesses achieve this goal by providing real-time tracking of shipments via IoT devices with international connectivity, roaming and in-built resilience. In turn, this enables quick response times in case of any issues.

In rapidly developing cities, governmental agencies are adopting IoT technology to improve public services like waste management and transportation.

For example, sensors embedded in garbage bins can alert officials when they need emptying, keeping cities clean and reducing costs.

Alternatively, smart traffic signals can also improve the flow of vehicles, reducing congestion and saving time for commuters.

Another key benefit of IoT is that the technology is being used to help many African countries drive rapid economic growth, create new jobs and help businesses become more competitive in the global marketplace.

With over 13 billion connected devices globally, the IoT market is a highly profitable and rapidly growing industry, with over $1 trillion being spent on the market globally.

The IoT industry has already helped create more than 20,000 jobs in 2022 alone, a figure that is only expected to grow as more IoT devices are introduced globally.

What’s more, as the adoption of IoT continues to increase across Africa, so will the goods and services to consumers and businesses in rapidly expanding cities and to those in more rural locations.

Looking at the benefits of IoT across Africa and certain important regions, we can see that several areas are seeing exponential growth following the adoption of IoT.

For instance, the IoT market is predicted to be worth $6.01bn in South Africa alone by the end of 2023. This type of technological advancement is also being replicated for the full length of the continent.

What are the Challenges of Multi-Network IoT in Africa?

Although the Internet of Things has already begun to transform daily operations across Africa for governments, companies and the general public, there are still some specific challenges to overcome.

The first issue is limited network coverage. Rural communities often lack reliable cellular connectivity, making traditional IoT deployments difficult. This can hinder the spread of IoT solutions in key areas such as agriculture and energy.

Another challenge is high costs. Many African countries face lower economic development levels,

A fragmented network landscape is another key challenge.

With limited competition and only a select number of mobile network operators providing multi-network roaming and backup solutions, it can be difficult to ensure reliable connectivity for IoT devices. This can mean a lack of choice for multi-network roaming systems and a lack of resilience in the solutions.

Lastly, high connectivity costs can be a significant barrier to a business’s IoT adoption, especially for resource-constrained applications in remote locations.

IoT Connectivity Solutions for Africa

These challenges are not impossible to overcome, however.

With new technological advancements and a growing market for IoT in Africa, there are now several connectivity solutions available that can help businesses overcome the challenges of multi-network IoT deployment.

For example, Caburn Telecom’s global M2M SIM cards offer multi-network roaming capabilities, allowing devices to connect to the strongest available network in any given location.

This not only provides reliable connectivity and resilient roaming from several key operators, but also eliminates the need for multiple local SIM cards or costly data roaming fees.

Additionally, innovative technologies like low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) provide cost-effective and energy-efficient connectivity solutions ideal for remote areas with limited network coverage.

These networks use specialised protocols that allow connected devices to operate on low power and over long ranges, making them perfect for IoT deployments in rural areas.

Gauteng Highway south africa

Ways IoT in Africa is Being Used

Despite some challenges for IoT applications, IoT technology is being used successfully.

Below are four key, contemporary examples that have either been implemented or remain successful in 2023:

1) South Africa: Electronic Tolling System

One of the key examples of how IoT is used in South Africa is electronic tolling systems.

Electronic tolling systems are an innovative technology that uses sensors and digital connections, connecting everything from traffic status and the number of vehicles passing through toll gates to electricity grids and traffic controls.

In 2012, an IoT-based E-tolling system called Open Road Tolling was introduced by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) on the Gauteng Highway.

This tolling system utilised IoT technology to make toll payments more efficient and cost-effective via an IoT-based electronic tag.

The system charges all vehicles using the highway without them slowing down or stopping, dramatically reducing traffic jams. Vehicle owners can purchase these IoT-based electronic tags and easily reload them when credit runs out at stores around the country.

The system has continued to be a success, with more than 3 million vehicles using the Gauteng Freeway Improvement System every day without substantial traffic being caused by toll bridge traffic.

2) Kenya: Waste Management Systems

In Kenya, IoT is being used to manage waste in an efficient and cost-effective way.

Some companies have developed sensor-based systems that can detect the amount of waste present in bins across the country.

This data is then transmitted from an IoT SIM card to a centralised system which triggers an alert when it reaches a certain level. The alerts are then used to notify waste management companies who can quickly collect and dispose of the excess waste.

The system has been proven to reduce costs by up to 40%, making it an efficient and environmentally friendly way of dealing with waste in Kenya.

Another example of this technology being used in Kenya is in Nairobi County, where IBM helped to introduce an IoT-based waste management solution.

The solution involves installing smart sensors in the waste collection fleet. These sensors can monitor the trucks in real time and create a digital map of Nairobi streets.

Additionally, these sensors can also check dumpsites, track the truck’s location, the time taken in traffic, and the time to collect waste.

The solution can also provide wider benefits, including monitoring driver behaviour, detecting speed bumps and potholes, and checking fuel usage.

During the trial period, collected waste volume significantly increased with the help of smart sensors, highlighting the benefits and effectiveness of adopting IoT technology.

3) Tanzania: Stopping Oil Theft

In Tanzania, IoT technology is being used to stop oil pilferage within fleets via radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

Heavy transport company Usangu Logistics has a fleet of over 100 trucks and tankers but had a problem with some oil products being stolen and sold illegally.

To combat this expensive issue, an IoT-enabled application using RFID was implemented to track each truck within the fleet in real time.

The application involved attaching an IoT-enabled gateway device to the truck’s cabin area and RFID-enabled tags to the hatch.

The tags transmit signals to the gateway device every eight seconds, sending the signal to HQ for interpretation and further action. From here, the software stores the seal status and location of the trucks for real-time monitoring.

Any attempt to open the hatch is recorded, and the culprit can be identified immediately, greatly helping to reduce the risk of theft.

4) Egypt: Appliance Control

In Egypt, IoT technology is being used to control household appliances and improve the energy efficiency of homes.

The Cairo-based tech firm, Integreight, has developed an IoT chip that can be integrated with modern appliances, allowing users to control their appliances remotely via their smartphones.

Through using a chip called 1sheeld, users can easily control their washing machines, refrigerators and other electrical appliances.

The chip can be used to switch on and off certain appliances at specific times, set timers and check the electricity consumption of different appliances. This helps households save energy and money.

Other IoT-based proposals are also underway in Egypt, including precision potato farming and beekeeping with the use of sensors to aid the successful delivery of efficient processes and high-quality products.

Global IoT Connectivity with Caburn Telecom

Thank you for reading our blog post which discusses some contemporary uses of IoT across Africa. As the continent continues to develop and grow, IoT technology will play a vital role in making vital services and commercial enterprises more efficient, scalable, cost-effective and sustainable.

And it’s not just Africa that’s taking advantage of this innovative technology.

Japan, the USA and Singapore are just some of the leading examples – but truthfully, it’s a global operation.

At Caburn Telecom, we offer leading data connectivity solutions that enable businesses across Africa and the globe to connect with customers and unlock new opportunities through IoT.

Our experienced team of engineers provides world-class services that not only meet but exceed customer expectations.

We strive to provide our clients with the perfect connection for their needs, making sure that all IoT solutions use the latest technologies and standards in data connectivity.

For further information about how Caburn Telecom can help you realise your IoT ambitions, contact our team today to arrange a free consultation.

Our experts will be more than happy to discuss your options and help you move forward with the perfect IoT strategy.

We look forward to hearing from you!