Not pie in the sky—the ‘Internet of Things’ is already with us in sub-Saharan Africa. We think

Not pie in the sky—the ‘Internet of Things’ is already with us in sub-Saharan Africa. We think

IMAGINE a Fulani or Maasai herdsman tracking the movement of his cattle real time, from the comfort of his hastily-erected hut, through his mobile phone. He then calls up a weather application, which gives him advice on where the best grazing area is, and where to water his livestock.

Miles away, agricultural officials huddle over a screen, tracking the movement of nomadic communities. A particular herding group is on course to run into another, and going by their history, there may be conflict over pasture, they sense. A quick call is then made to community elders, and the danger is averted.

This might very recently have come across as a distant development, but it is what the reality of the internet of things (IoT) might look for everyday Africa, MTN Group MTN Group Corporate Affairs executive, Chris Maroleng, told this writer in a recent interview in Cape Town.

“This is not pie in the sky stuff, it is something we need to engage in and develop applications for,” he says. And Johannesburg-based MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, is already developing internet of things “solutions” for Africa, Maroleng says.

” We are working on delivering applications such as security services where you will be able to remote-view your home, or others that switch on your lights and ‘talk’ to machines and appliances in your home,” he says, as he shows me a split-screen real time view on his smartphone of all the forks in his house, summoned on an LTE (4G) network.

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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