IOT platform, Mind2Machine Challenge catalyse African IOT progress
With MTN's IOT platform now rolling out across Africa and the first Mind2Machine Challenge awards having identified top local IOT and M2M technologies, MTN says it is well placed to act on its ambition to catalyse the development of a world-class IOT ecosystem in Africa.
Speaking on the side-lines of the inaugural Mind2Machine Challenge awards in Johannesburg this week, Alpheus Mangale, chief enterprise officer for MTN Business South Africa, says MTN believes IOT will change the world. "This is a $19 trillion opportunity globally, and South Africa and the African continent should not fall behind. We should not let outsiders change it for us, but we in Africa should change it ourselves by acknowledging the innovation that exists within the country and in Africa as a continent.
"IOT technologies bring unprecedented and exciting opportunities across all verticals," he says. "It applies to the public sector in how government can engage with citizens better; it applies to agriculture and how farming could be done differently in future; and it applies to financial services, to mining, and various other sectors.
"Catalysing IOT development is a commitment MTN has made, and given our footprint across the continent, MTN has a role to play in developing IOT innovation across Africa. If you think about it - who are the people best placed to make African IOT a reality? My argument is that it is telecommunication providers. So we are looking to extend the Mind2Machine challenge and foster IOT development hubs in all the countries we operate in across Africa. We want to partner with industries, developers and IT innovators to pioneer IOT across Africa."
Mangale envisages country-based Mind2Machine challenges culminating in an overall African Mind2Machine challenge award winner in future. "What we need to do first is to extend the M2M platform we launched in South Africa, in April this year, into each of the African countries we operate in."
Greg Hatfield, GM: Products & Services at MTN Business, notes while SA tended to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of technology development in the past, IOT and M2M technologies presented an opportunity for the country to lead in innovation: "IOT is bleeding-edge everywhere right now," he says. "MTN is creating the ecosystem that will drive IOT progress on the continent, and initiatives such as the Mind2Machine challenge are in effect identifying the founding partners of this ecosystem. With R15 million earmarked to support our IOT programme next year, MTN is putting its weight and ability to take products and services to market behind the innovators emerging in this ecosystem."
Yusuf Kaka, senior manager: Service Delivery - ICT Services at MTN South Africa and one of the adjudicators of the Mind2Machine challenge, says the Mind2Machine challenge supports MTN's aim to serve as the hub of IOT progress in Africa.
"One of the reasons we wanted to do this challenge was, now that we have invested in our M2M platform, we wanted to get a feel for what's required in South Africa. Our capability in the past has essentially been 'plumbing' of connectivity. Now, by offering a full feature set for innovators in the M2M space, we have produced a 'MacGyver's knife' of functionality and we need to know more about what the market needs. We discovered a complete spectrum of customers and requirements out there looking for a broad range of functionality. We saw opportunities to link companies - such as a small company that does hardware and a company that does M2M solutions - and our platform facilitates that."