Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is still in the early stages in Africa, it is starting to gain traction in Africa across different verticals. The maturity level varies between different markets, with some in the exploring phase and others with much more concrete IoT plans. As the maturity level increases, the ecosystem will follow suite. This will be a natural evolution when innovation is fostered, and the different stakeholders are involved from the public and private sectors and the academic community.
This is the view of Mohamed Kante, Head of Solutions and Business Development for North and West Africa at Nokia. “Nokia is already fully engaged with several African cities and service providers on the specific requirements in their unique markets. We have been investing in building an ecosystem of partners focusing on developing innovative IoT applications and performing technology and market trials. When we engage with customers in Africa, we provide them access to the extensive Nokia IoT ecosystem of partners,” Kante says.
“Most of the interest in IoT is focused on smart cities, public safety, connected automotive and digital health,” says Kante. “This is understandable as these verticals solve challenges that people in Africa face, so IoT-based solutions addressing them would be of huge value. As deployment takes off in these industries, others will quickly follow especially if the economies of scale support such expansion.”
But how do CSPs in the region take advantage of the opportunity?
Nokia can help communications service providers (CSPs) and other players to enter or grow in IoT. For example, the Nokia worldwide IoT network grid (WING) provides a managed service and related IoT infrastructure as a Service for CSPs. It includes support for market entry, provisioning, device management, operations, security, a central help desk and billing for all connected applications. WING can be provided as a white label managed-service model, enabling operators to offer the service to their enterprise customers under their own brand.
“In addition to delivering a one-stop IoT services model that includes infrastructure such as a Core grid and CMP as a Service, Nokia also provides CSPs with the services needed to assess the IoT opportunities in specific markets, as well as go-to-market consultancy services to make it easier to capture new revenue streams quickly and efficiently,” says Kante.
“This puts us in a unique position to be the trusted partner for our customers in this journey. Nokia has all the building blocks for complete IoT end-to-end multi-technology solutions, whether it is over a fixed or mobile network. The Nokia WING business model also includes IMPACT IoT platform as a Service. It is a scalable, horizontal, and multi-tenant IoT platform that forms a secure, standards-based platform on which CSPs can build and scale IoT services. IMPACT enables cities and operators to securely host IoT applications from multiple agencies in addition to their own applications. So, when deployment starts in one of the lead mentioned industries, the solution can scale to support other industries and the service providers will have improved economics with every newly added solution.”
Nokia has been very active in discussing different possible use cases within these verticals to improve people’s lives and enhance the safety, and the economic and environmental sustainability in Africa. “Nokia’s video analytics application, for example, utilises advanced machine learning algorithms by Nokia Bell Labs for crowd and traffic management, which helps with public safety, while smart lighting and fleet management applications enhance the sustainability of natural and business or city resources. Finally, applications like smart parking achieve multiple goals in terms of making people work and live smarter by eliminating time-waste, generating new revenue opportunities for businesses and cities, and reducing traffic, pollution, and fuel waste. Our goal is to enable cities and operators in Africa to provide their customers with applications that enhance the quality of their lives, and enhance their environment and business sustainability while making them safer,” Kante concludes.