IoT & Africa

The realisation of the Internet of Things is driven by several enabling identification, sensing and communication technologies such as the Internet itself, Radio Frequency Identifiers and wireless sensor networks. Africa has not kept pace with technology advancements; the Continent continues to contend for the last position in virtually all technology spheres. In the Information and Communications Technology sector for instance, Africa has only 7% of her households on the Internet; this is far behind the world’s figure of 41%. However, all is not that dim; there is some evidence that the Continent can be on forefront to some technology advancements. As the world’s researchers and businesses rush to unfold Internet of Things, it would be valuable to pose the question; given Africa’s pronounced lag in the baseline technology needed to implement Internet of Things, should the Continent go for adoption or innovation? By choosing innovation at this early stage of the developments in the Internet of Things, the author argues that Africa will avoid the famous problem of “transferring of Northern designs to Southern realities“. Taking the case of a drought early warning system, the author demonstrates that by innovatively incorporating the realities such as the prevalence of African indigenous knowledge on weather, unreliable communication, low-end mobile phone handsets, among others, a home-grown Internet of Things flavour has higher chance of succeeding.

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