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IoT Forum Africa 2019: Exploring the Future of IoT in Africa

Last week, Geotab Africa attended one of Africa’s most popular conferences about the Internet of Things (IoT). Now in its third year, the IoT Forum Africa saw hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs and solution providers gather in Midrand across two days to discuss, learn and share knowledge about IoT technology and trends that are shaping the future of business. Read More about Big Data and IoT

Exploring the Future of IoT in Africa

Running under the theme of “Driving Performance, Growth and Profitability’’ in Africa, the conference focused on topics designed to help businesses harness the “business value” of IoT technology. With insights from industry experts and visionaries, conference participants left with new ideas and strategies for IoT initiatives.

With that said, here are Geotab Africa’s five top takeaways from the conference.

1. A Need for Government and Businesses to Collaborate to Achieve A Positive Lived Experience of IoT

Kicking-off proceedings for day one, Deputy Minister of the Department of Communications, Pinky Kekana, delivered a keynote address about the need for businesses and government to collaborate and embrace IoT so it can be used to benefit the South African public.  

“I believe that together, business and government can achieve a positive lived experience of IoT, for all South Africans. I would like South Africans to be some of the first in the world to experience daily life the IoT-way,” she said.

“Whether that is a smart home, with technological intelligence built into our house structures, alarm clocks synced with calendar, traffic, and weather apps, or heating and cooling devices synced with external temperature sensors, or lighting and coffee machines synced with motion detectors, so that lights come on only when we need them, and it is linked to cost structures, or the impact on waste management patterns from food in our fridges or on the side of the road, or the impact on transport,” she added.

2. Using IoT to Improve Safety in Public Transport

The idea of introducing telematics in public transportation to improve the public’s commuting experience is another takeaway from the conference. By definition, telematics refers to a method of monitoring an asset, such as a vehicle or train, through GPS tracking and onboard diagnostics. By capitalizing on the unique ability of telematics to generate operating data such as speed and fuel usage, Transnet CIO, Sindisiwe Dlamini Moloi, argued that it would help create a “safer, greener and more convenient” public transportation process.

3. Educating the Public About IoT

In terms of technological advancement, Africa is lagging behind as compared to other continents.

This is not only due to the lack of infrastructure but also due to the lack of public knowledge about the basics of IoT. In a panel discussion on “Understanding the African IoT Ecosystem”, the panel noted that the public needs to know what IoT is before they buy into IT technology. This means that businesses and government need to educate the public about the fundamentals of IoT rather than merely selling the technology to them. In addition, public teachings about IoT should also include information about IoT’s information security as many people are sceptical about inserting their private information into new technology.

4. Upskilling Employees for IoT

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is slowly changing the way we work. According to a 2013 Oxford study entitled “The Future of Employment”, 47% of U.S jobs will disappear in 20 years as a result of workplace automation. In order to avoid or minimise the impact of workplace automation on jobs, Ashish Gupta, Head of IoT Programs at OTT Partner, stressed the importance of companies implementing skills development programmes that will equip employees to occupy new positions within the business or empower them to make key decisions about data analytics.

5. Investing in New Technology

IoT affects everybody more or less. And by the look of things, it is here to stay. Many IoT enthusiasts at the conference expressed frustration at the unwillingness of organisational leaders to budget or invest in new technology in the workplace. Companies need to be more open to investing in new technology to keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as it also holds the potential for new revenue opportunities that companies never knew existed.

Author: The Geotab Africa Team                    

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