How the Internet of Things (IOT) Is Improving Lives and Livelihoods in Kenya.

The Internet of things has become one of most talked about topics both at the workplace and outside of it. If you do not know what IOT is yet, Simply put, it is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This is from the mobile phones, watches, headphones, fridges to washing machines in households.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has not been around for very long. However, there have been visions of machines communicating with one another since the early 1900s. One of the first examples of an Internet of Things is from the early 1980s, where a Coca Cola machine, located at a local university in America was connected to the Internet, and local programmers would check to see if there was a drink available, and if it was cold, before making the trip.
In Kenya, the young and the energetic population is already excited about the idea and has used it to perform a number of tasks in their daily living. Some of the ways IOT is changing lives include;

1. Enhanced home/Business security
There have been profound strides made in the development of devices that would help Kenyans to keep an eye on their properties. The commonest ones are small but smart security cameras, which have been installed in many homes and business alike. With the rise in trend of using such cameras, Safaricom saw the need in Kenyan market of acquiring storage space for the CCTV footage recorded leading to the introduction of the Safaricom CCTV Backup. This cloud based storage service has enabled business owners store and keep track with their business activities while miles away through viewing footage from their mobile phones, tablets and computers.

2. Energy
M-Kopa in Kenya has built its business around networked devices. The company has already connected 300,000 Kenyan homes to clean energy at discount prices and given customers a payment plan of an initial deposit of KES 2,999 followed by payment of 50 shilling daily to m-kopa for a year. In return, its customers get a solar rechargeable radio, mobile phone charger, a rechargeable torch and a larger battery. Each M-KOPA Solar home is calculated to save Kshs 75,000 compared to using kerosene over a four-year period.
One year ago the company went further and developed a 16-inch TV which runs on the sun’s rays, bringing communication to the masses.

The photograph shows a couple from Kisumu watching an Mkopa solar TV kit.

More interesting is that M-Kopa can also remotely monitor the health systems of its devices and make repairs if needed

3. Farming
The serious farmers in Kenya have embraced the internet of things to achieve their goals. Majority of the Farmers have installed some weather stations in their farms to monitor different weather patterns.
In the Mt Kenya Region a team from Oxford University affixed basic accelerometers (similar to those found in a mobile phone) to water pump handles to monitor usage. The team developed a transmitter that fits into the pump handle that delivers data via SMS thus measuring the pumps efficiency.

4. Disaster monitoring
There are many instances when disasters have caught Kenyans off guard. Indeed, fires have destroyed properties and claimed the lives of many people. With the internet of things, it is now possible to monitor disasters and respond in good time. For instance, the Redcross, an emergency response team, has devised fire alarms and aims at installing them in slums in the country. Through the GPS, the residents in such areas and the authorities will know where the fire is in real time.

5. Monitoring wildlife
The issue of poaching has caused a lot of headaches in the policy maker’s circles. Other than the fact that it affects the tourism sector, it also gives the country a bad name in the international scene. However, the internet of things has helped monitor the location of wildlife and their state of health. A combination of applications and incredible devices are utilized to offer users such information.

Precisely, the lives of Kenyans have and will continue to change significantly with the rise of the internet of things. Therefore, embracing IoT will give companies a competitive edge in an ever-changing global marketplace and it can only go from strength to strength as the level of ICT literacy in Kenya rises and the cost-benefit analysis of investment in IoT solutions becomes more heavily weighted in favour of the benefits. Kenya is a country of innovators with an entrepreneurial spirit, one of the many reasons why IoT can expect to play a powerful role in countries economic development for the foreseeable future.

Today, governments, businesses, and consumers are using the IoT and Big Data to introduce new business models, to improve the delivery of services, to increase efficiency in production, and to enhance wellbeing and human welfare. Viscar is one of the pioneers of training and consultancy in East Africa in IoT, conducting conferences and trainings on various IoT subjects such as IoT Enabling Technologies, Applicable IoT Techniques and Methods, IoT current and future Application and Services, IoT Societal Impacts and adoption, Security and Privacy for Internet of Things, IoT Deployment Scenarios among others. Our IoT consultancy solutions offers a variety of IoT solutions across various verticals as well as technologies. Come 2018, Viscar will be holding an IOT training from the 8th to the 9th of March followed by an IOT Conference themed: Smart Economies and Cities. Get in touch with us for more details.

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