The Internet of Things could unlock Africa

Unemployment, environmental sustainability, the right to education and access to healthcare. These are some of key social challenges that Africa is facing and which, according to experts, it could succeed in overcoming thanks to the Internet of Things.

The possible revolution

The Internet of Things, a concept which in itself sums up the technological innovations that guide us towards a future where everything will be managed by an app, cannot and should not be a privilege of rich countries only. Indeed, in the developing nations it may provide a unique opportunity for growth. Regarding Africa, it is not surprising that in the world’s most influential forums a growing number of voices are suggesting that the African continent will be the economic leader of tomorrow if it can manage to really digitalise its communities. In Africa, the Internet of Things may be the key to addressing the issue of unemployment, opening the education system, strengthening healthcare and creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly economic system. Just think of the potential of e-learning, namely distance learning, which would allow culture to be brought to even the most remote rural areas and would overcome infrastructure deficiencies. Similar benefits could be seen in the health sector, with the possibility of envisaging services that connect patients and doctors by breaking down distances.

Public and private sectors come together for development

For this scenario to become a reality there is the need for investment which would encourage the spread of the Internet, now confined to a penetration rate of 26%. Governments, however, cannot do this alone; in many cases, the lack of national plans for broadband development is attributable not to a lack of will but a lack of resources. Therefore, according to experts, it is necessary to conceive an efficient system of partnership between public entities and private operators. In particular, the former is essentially entrusted with the task of designing a perimeter of rules, which safeguard but are not restrictive, within which the latter may move. In essence, as observed by Fredril Jejdling, the President and Regional Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Ericsson, in an editorial written for the portal “This is Africa”: “Only when all parties involved work together can they maximise the opportunity”.