The IoT Developers Africa Initiative is an initiative backed by 3 entities in different parts of Kenya, aimed at creating a regional (and eventually Sub Saharan Africa network) of the Internet of Things Developers and Solution Providers. We specifically believe that Africa can fully exploit its growth potential if it fully utilizes the Internet of Things.
What is Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit; when IoT is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020 – Wikipedia
Why we believe IoT is a big deal for Sub Saharan Africa.
Our bottom-up analysis for the applications we size estimates that the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. At the top end, that level of value—including the consumer surplus—would be equivalent to about 11 percent of the world economy (exhibit) – McKinsey & Company
Despite these high-profile deals, questions remain about the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things. The Economist points out that estimates on the rise of Internet-connected devices vary greatly. Technology research firm Gartner says 26 billion devices will be online by 2020; ABI Research puts that number at 30 billion; Cisco estimates about 50 billion – Forbes
Unlike most continents, Africa’s Innovative Potential is capped at mostly just Software Innovation. We have the M-Pesa, we have the Mobile Apps, we have the Web Apps. We have it all but Hardware Innovation. And ironically, what Africa needs is highly customized and extremely sustainable hardware solutions that can work hand in hand with the rest of the Software Ecosystem to achieve MDGs.
Highly Customized – Because the landscape in Africa is unique and the challenges are unique.
Extremely Sustainable – Because also the cost of living in many parts Africa is much lower, and so is the buying capacity for even Governments. Presenting an opportunity to investors to scale highly sustainable hardware solutions inside and outside of Africa. Because technology does exist to manufacture hardware solutions at much cheaper costs.
The Role of SwahiliBox, LakeHub and Chimera IOT
These 3 entities are focusing on creating the first community ecosystem we want to see develop throughout Sub Saharan Africa. We will be spearheading programs and innovation initiatives we want to see scale throughout the region eventually.
We are looking for more backers, be it in the corporate sector, private and public sector collaborations, sponsors and funders of various initiatives that will allow IoT’s adoption to go beyond just Kenya, but to the rest of SSA. So that Africans can develop not only the Software, but also the Hardware solutions they need.
SwahiliBox, LakeHub and Chimera IOT will be doing quarterly events within their communities with milestones and outputs at each point. Each quarter they will hail top innovators in the region and place them in the innovation space that will allow them to exponentially grow much further, and link them up to potential partners and prospects that are regionally available.
What we already have:
- A pool of individuals ready to get into and learn more about IoT innovation.
- We have done basic bootcamps for IoT sensitization which have generated interest.
- Have already started formulating partnerships with key institutions to foster innovation in the community.
- Have developed Social Media and Messaging Channels. So far these channels have, collectively, close to 250 members.
This post first appeared on Let Africa Innovate blog.