The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionised the way we connect with and interact with our environment.
From unlocking doors remotely to ordering food and monitoring delivery, companies worldwide use this innovative technology to improve efficiency and accessibility in their everyday operations.
In recent years IoT has begun emerging for African enterprises that are innovating and establishing technological growth and expansion via the technologies. IoT has provided increased access to vital resources, improving healthcare solutions, creating new forms of energy production, and ultimately driving economic growth right across the continent.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the ways that IoT is being used right across Africa today, highlighting some impressive examples along the way.
What are the benefits of IoT adoption in Africa?
Before we explore how IoT is being used in the African continent, let’s first look at the benefits of embracing this technology.
IoT can bring several benefits across a wide variety of sectors, such as improved access to essential resources, asset tracking, security solutions, enhanced healthcare, energy optimisation, fleet management, waste management and EV charge point infrastructure. Utilising IoT helps to support critical infrastructure and helps create efficiencies that support scalability and growth.
Due to the expansion of trade and transport networks, companies are working more internationally. This means that goods and services need to be monitored and secured while travelling vast distances. Devices require international connectivity, roaming and in-built resilience.
Goods and services become available to consumers and businesses in rapidly expanding cities and to those in more rural locations.
IoT technology is also being used by government agencies and commercial companies to make vital services such as utilities more efficient and accessible. Furthermore, IoT is being used for healthcare solutions that provide better diagnosis and remote treatment options for patients.
Another key benefit of IoT is that it is being used to help many African countries drive rapid economic growth. Creating new jobs and helping 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 also helped to generate more than 20,000 jobs in 2022 alone, a figure that is only expected to grow as more IoT devices are introduced globally.
Looking at the benefits of IoT across Africa and certain important regions we can see that there are several areas that are seeing high growth. 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?
While the Internet of Things is a revolutionary technology that has changed the way many countries operate infrastructure and enterprises provide services to each other and consumers, the adoption of IoT technology can offer some unique challenges.
One of the main challenges in certain regions is the lack of adequate internet connectivity, meaning that rural communities are unable to benefit from the advantages that IoT can offer. Some regions have limited mobile connectivity with few operators. This can mean a lack of choice for multi-network roaming systems and a lack of resilience.
There are, however, a range of solutions available that can overcome geo-graphic boundaries or reach.
For example, Caburn Telecom offers a range of solutions that provide resilient roaming from several key operators. Long-range technologies also provide an alternative for utility monitoring such as solar panels and batteries.
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.
If you want to learn more about global IoT applications, please read our recent blog post which discusses some use cases of IoT in Singapore.
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 are using the latest technologies and standards in data connectivity.
For further information about how Caburn Telecom can help you realise your IoT ambitions, contact us today to arrange a free consultation. Our team 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!