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IoT will drive efficiency in utility services in Africa – Liquid Telecom

IoT will drive efficiency in utility services in Africa – Liquid Telecom

Liquid Telecom's recently published, African IoT Report 2017, notes that in terms of utility service, Africa's challenges are different to other regions' and so too are the solutions IoT offers.

According to the Report, IoT has an enormous potential to help deliver clean water to thousands of people, better protect endangered species, make roads and streets safer for citizens or better inform farmers and increase crop production.

"IoT can radically improve agricultural outputs, increase efficiencies at over-worked hospitals, and reduce the number of people dying on African roads in traffic accidents, with a big part contributing to sustainability," reads an excerpt from the Report.

According to Liquid Telecom, over 630 million people in Africa live without access to electricity, while an estimated 40 billion hours a year are spent fetching water in the sub-Saharan region.

The company notes that conventional utility providers are struggling to serve the continent's population.

Hugh Whalan, co-founder and CEO of West African asset financing company, PEGAfrica, said, "IoT gives energy and utility companies the ability to connect to assets in the field and troubleshoot issues, reduce operational costs, perform over the air updates and the like. The key challenge is when the network goes down and you lose connection to a remote device, and you are left with an asset that is hard to service remotely."

Whalan says companies that have positioned IoT as a central component of their business model have received tens of millions of dollars in investment over the last five years in Africa. "The investment they receive is because IoT is an enabler for providing underserved, remote consumers assets on credit in a scalable way," he notes.

"Perhaps the biggest benefit of IoT in the energy space is the ability to perform monitoring and maintenance remotely – making it a very attractive opportunity for energy providers, which typically spend large amounts of money on upkeep of rural assets," Whalan adds.

Liquid Telecom's group CTO Ben Roberts believes the successful deployment of IoT across Africa will go hand-in-hand with the rise of cloud services, adding that IoT is the logical next step for an increasingly connected world.

According to Gartner, there are already an estimated 8.4 billion connected things in use worldwide in 2017, which is set to reach 20.4 billion by 2020.

Furthermore, the analyst firm believes IoT will reach mainstream adoption in the next two to five years in Africa, where it is expected to have a 'transformational impact'.

According to global information and analysis firm IHS Markit, the industrial sector – driven by building automation, industrial automation and lighting – will account for nearly half of all new connected devices globally between 2015 and 2025.

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