What is meant for IoT?
The Internet of Things is a network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items. They are equipped with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity so they can collect and exchange data.
There’s wide enthusiasm about spectacular innovations such as Intelligent refrigeratorsand driverless cars.
But a quieter revolution is underway in everyday systems and facilities, such as financial services.
There are particular possibilities here for Africa. The potential for the continent’s economic growth is well established. There’s also an abundance of opportunity for digital innovation.
This was clear from a recent continent wide entrepreneurship competition organised by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
More broadly, the new Internet of Things has the potential to compensate for Africa’s legacies of underdevelopment. The key here is the development of the blockchain from a fringe concept into a mainstream digital innovation.
The blockchain and Africa
The blockchain, mostly known as the technology that underpins digital currency Bitcoin, is an almost incorruptible digital ledger of transactions, agreements and contracts that is distributed across thousands of computers, worldwide.
It has the potential to be both foundation and springboard for a new developmental infrastructure.
Water and energy
Economic growth also depends on affordable and reliable services like water and energy. Water is an increasingly scarce resource in many parts of Africa. This is particularly true in cities. Rapid population increases are making old precepts of urban planning redundant.
Technology can obviously help.
These “little brains” can take appropriate actions to detect and report damage and leakage and close off supply lines. Smart devices can also monitor water quality to detect health hazards.
The West African Monetary Union’s cryptocurrency initiative is encouraging. It’s a step towards the future that Don and Alex Tapscott envision; a move towards an Internet that’s driven by the falling costs of bargaining, policing, and enforcing social and commercial agreements.
In this new space integrity, security, collaboration, the privacy of all transactions will be the name of the game. So too will the creation and distribution of value.