Nigeria as the fastest growing telecommunications market in Africa is not even at the outskirts of the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) Mobile Internet of Things (IoT) Initiative1 launched earlier this week, suggesting that the country is not keeping pace new technological initiatives.
This initiative witnessed the launch of multiple commercial rollouts of Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) solutions by several of the world’s leading mobile operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Verizon, Vodafone and others.
In Africa, Vodacom South Africa as part of its investment in the IoT opened a Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) laboratory at its Vodaworld campus to incubate and commercialise machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) systems using narrowband networking.
Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer, GSMA, said: “The Mobile IoT initiative encouraged the market to adopt licensed LPWA networks and we are now seeing this work come to fruition with multiple commercial deployments around the world, as well as the availability of hundreds of different applications and solutions. It is clear that the market sees the benefit of adopting solutions that offer flexibility, security, lower costs, and cover all use cases, and we look forward to seeing other operators follow in the near future.”
Chris Uwaje, Africa chair for World Forum on Internet of Things (IoTs), just back from the Global IoT Forum, held in Geneva, said that the current ICT e-Readiness for Africa and Nigeria in particular is worrisome.
This situation may become more complex in the very near future.
“The high population of the Nigerian youth (70%) is both a monumental negative development time bomb and immense wealth creation opportunity for global competitiveness. Africa has a population of over 1.1billion which is 16% of the world population, According to internetlivestat.com, Africa has recorded 9.8% penetration of Internet users against the 90.2% of the rest of the world.
“We are not there yet but if we must secure the opportunities provided by the IoT, Africa must understand the role and impact of software in actualizing the globalization order. Already we are experiencing rapid growth in Internet Access in many parts of the continent is an engine that will drive the Software world of Africa.
“For Instance in Nigeria where Internet Penetration has actually increased from 23% to 46.1%, we have recorded tremendous growth in the area of software development, job creation, education, health, agriculture, digital inclusion etc.
“It was said that ICT in Nigeria contributes 10% of the national GDP so it means that if platforms are created, skills and capacity developed, policies and strategic plans implemented, Africa will be transformed into clusters of Digital Natives Ecosystem,” he said.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that the key challenges for the country launching IoT rest on the low migration of telecommunications networks in the country to IPv6 which will make it difficult for the country to launch into Internet of Things (IoT) platform.
Stakeholders that spoke to us argued that Internet of Things is machine to machine connection and with low internet penetration as well as absence of the nation’s critical infrastructure on the internet it is going to be tall order to achieve mobile IoT, except for companies which will use it to improve their productivity. “IoT sensors are essential to realizing the promise of the smart city,” they said.
On organizational perspective Lanre Kolade, managing director, Vodacom Business Nigeria, said that, Internet of Things is one of the fastest growing technologies that promise to transform customers’ business.
“So whether you are a hardware manufacturer or connectivity reseller, adding IoT solutions to your portfolio will open up new revenue streams. IoT initiatives are an opportunity to sell hardware, software, connectivity and a broad range of value-added services, from consulting to integration and support. By delivering IoT solutions, you have an opportunity to create stronger, deeper and longer relationships with your customers,” he said.