Internet of things: From idea to reality, making it happen in Africa

11 Apr 2019 16:30h - 18:15h

Event report


Mr Innocent Bagamba Muhizi (CEO, Rwanda Information Society Authority) shed some light on the work of the Informational Society Authority which is a governmental agency implementing all ICT related projects in the country. He mentioned the IoT projects developed, and also stressed the support for the IoT hub in the country. We look for the specific use cases in order to address specific issues we are facing on the ground.

Mr Andrew Rugege (Director, ITU Regional Office for Africa) shed some light on the work of the ITU in the African continent. He added that African countries agreed on the specific areas in which the push forward is needed. The African Union identified the top five priority areas for regional development he added, fostering the innovation, promoting the broadband development, security and safety, and the capacity building in the area of ICT. Rugege added that the continent needs the regulatory legal framework in order to go forward. The use cases in specific areas that Africa will try to tackle are the privacy issues of digital identities, security of that data, and devices needed for the check, authentication, and verification of digital identities. Technology is there, he added, but the regulatory framework is needed. He pointed out the programme developed with the help of the UN Women and the African Union, which consists of the coding camps for the female entrepreneurs in Africa under the age of 20.

Mr Alexander Ntoko (Chief, Operations and Planning Department, ITU), the moderator of the session, introduced the next speakers which gave an overview of the bit WaziUp project and the platform developed as a hub for African entrepreneurs.

Mr Abdur Rahim (FBK Research Institute, Italy) pointed out that the WaziUp platform was developed in 2015 in order to help people with the real need (in remote areas, with poor connectivity, or people unable to purchase the high-end technology). Inside the WaziUp project, everything is developed on open source platforms and using the low-cost technology. Many problems that undeveloped countries are facing now are already solved in the developed world, Rahim added, so we aim to create similar solutions with the lower cost. WaziUp is helping in prototyping the certain IoT projects to the production phase and/or help in develop and deploy solution on a WaziUp cloud. They focus on the system that is low power, low cost and robust to meet the needs of the rural areas. Rahim added that WaziUp was also involved in creating innovation hubs across the African continent, and has plans for creating ten such hubs. In a conclusion, he showcased some of the solutions in the field of agriculture (smart farming), cattle rustling, and fish farming.

Mr Congduc Pham (UPPA, LIUPPA Laboratory, France) provided an insight into the technology used for the IoT solutions implemented in the rural areas. He added that everything is done by using cheap Arduino chipboards, LoRa (Long Range transmission) standards for transmission, and using the open source software. Sometimes, he added, IoT devices are not covered by the Internet connection but actually use the gateways that collect the data from the sensors. Devices that have sensors (such as ‘smart cow collars’) have a two-year autonomy, and solar panels are used for powering the gateways. This leads to the massively reduce the development costs, he added.

Mr Fiifi Baidoo (iSpace, Ghana) pointed out that WaziUp is enabling startups to build IoT products, and/or to prototype certain idea into the production. They know that not everyone is an entrepreneur, so they deploy additional programmes that can help finding employment, he added. He also mentioned the efforts they are putting into the education of the new generations and vulnerable groups. Education camps are free to everyone, he added, helping the African entrepreneurs.

Mr Philippe Cousin (EGM, France) added a perspective on the economic impact that IoT solutions can create. He pointed out that all participants in the WaziUp project reported the great financial benefits from using these solutions. There are significant cost-reductions, he stated.

As an answer to the question from the audience, the panellists pointed out that IoT technologies can develop more quality life by being used for human health monitoring or other areas that can help a wider population as well.

Developing robust solutions should be the priority.


By Arvin Kamberi