Who would have thought that one day; tethering rocks to a chip-sensor to measure temperature, planting a chip inside cattle’s horns to track their movement and health or simply measuring the levels of calcium and humidity in Soil, would be possible?
Fast forward, Internet of Things(IoT)technology, has since made it possible and is expected to play a significant role in agricultural productivity to ensure food security and safety in the country. Besides agriculture, IoT also presents a number of opportunities for growth in other sectors like e-commerce, transport, and logistics, fishing, energy, and health.
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Call it the fourth industrial revolution, IoT provision in Kenya and East Africa, in general, has the requisite infrastructure and enough devices to start leveraging the potential. In fact, experts agree, there is enough bandwidth, cloud service providers to see more IoT activities in the region.
The Internet of things(IoT) refers to the network of physical devices such as mobile phones, vehicles, home appliances among others, embedded with electronics, sensors, software, actuators, and connectivity which enables them to exchange data.
Data from the Communication Authority of Kenya indicates that Kenya’s smartphones penetration surpassed the 40 million mark 2017, presenting a unique opportunity for companies in the technology and telecommunications industry.
With this level of penetration, more things are now connected to the internet than people. About 1 million things, experts say, are connected to the internet and are being used by people to drive economic prosperity.
Overall, the use of technology continues to provide improved experiences to users.
“We are now moving beyond human connectivity; we want to make sure everything else is connected. Our aim is going beyond anything that has a switch,” said Joel Muigai, Head of IoT Strategy East Africa at Liquid Telecom at a past event.
In Kenya today, farms connected with intelligent apps and innovations such as precision agriculture, smart irrigation, and variable rate technology are all too familiar. Farmers across Kenya are now exploring smart devices to keep up to date with the latest developments in the sector. They use such devices to receive weather information, early warning on extreme weather events and information on efficient production methods.
It is a clear indication that IoT is driving growth in the entire agricultural value chain. However, the high cost of power and maintenance of the connections is still a tall order for farmers. The current infrastructure is still limited, hence the need to build one that will speed up simple connectivity.
Successful application of IoT based solutions in agriculture, health or transport needs scale, expertise and market clout in connectivity and network infrastructure.
Large scale farmers, for example, experience various challenges when it comes to inventory management. With the application of IoT through sensors goes a long way to improve real-time monitoring and tracking of inventory, reducing human errors in reordering farm items.
Take, for example, horticultural farmers that stores perishable produce in warehouses. They can apply IoT in eliminating over-stocking of produce in their warehouses by placing monitoring sensors to check the optimum temperature and send alerts whenever required.
Most organizations rush to plug technologies into areas they consider inefficient, expecting an increase in efficiency but end up getting it wrong as they seldom consider end users’ as a point of focus.
To achieve growth in IoT, it is critical for the industry to pull and work together in getting the building blocks for the technology right from start. Liquid Telecom now plans to partner with institutions of higher learning to drive innovation within IoT infrastructure. It also plans to roll out digital centers in all the counties to create a platform for innovation.