Twenty-five billion connected devices by 2020 and five billion by the end of 2015: Drones delivering pizza, roads repairing themselves; the next decade will be the decade of connected devices present in every aspect of our lives.
Africa as a whole is a unique case. On the one hand, the continent has very poor Internet penetration; 26.5% compared to a global average of 42.3% in 2014, according to Internet World Stats. On the other hand, most global Internet networks are not designed to manage machine-to-machine (M2M) data.
This lack of infrastructure represents a huge opportunity for private investors. The question everyone has in mind is: will Africans have the guts to seize the opportunity and move on or are these obstacles too difficult to overcome?
There are a number of initiatives in place that aim to ensure that Africa is connected and that innovation is fostered.
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg launched Internet.org in 2014, a non-profit organization that aims to provide Internet access for everyone. The organization is mainly focused on Africa with a total of four out of eight African countries where it was launched.
Think is an incubator for companies operating in technology in Kigali and was created in 2014 in Rwanda to identify and support the leaders of high-tech start-ups looking to create digital solutions for Africa. In October 2014, a few companies started joining the incubator. With a young and vibrant population and significant government investment in the country’s ICT infrastructure, Rwanda provides a unique platform opportunity for technology start-ups. Millicom, operating under the Tigo brand in Africa, is the angel investor behind Think and aims to help committed entrepreneurs get started and start their own business.
Gust Pay is a South African start-up. The company provides what is called “event intelligence”, people can use an app that shows them where the closest merchants are in relation to where they are at time T.
Tutorys is a French start-up that helps individuals and professionals to strengthen their IT skills through tutorials in the form of videos. This company has users in countries where the penetration rate is relatively high such as Senegal and Morocco.