Technology and Policy for the Internet of Things in Africa
21 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2016 Last revised: 2 Sep 2016
Date Written: March 31, 2016
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been called the 'next Internet,' with the ability to transform how we interact with the physical world on a scale similar to the way the Internet transformed how we interact with each other. As global economic growth increasingly shifts to developing countries, few technology trends hold greater promise or greater challenge for these nations than that posed by the IoT. Enabling and managing the Internet of Things transformation will require innovative policy and regulation, particularly in these developing countries. In this paper we examine a number of key challenges for the development of the Internet of Things in an African context. These include technology, policy, regulation, privacy and security, and capacity development.
Expansion of the traditional Internet has proceeded more slowly in developing countries than elsewhere, constrained by infrastructure, cost, energy availability, technical expertise, and even literacy rates. Similar issues will impact the development of the Internet of Things in Africa, and the proliferation of connected devices will increase the demand on available resources such as bandwidth and network capacity. Despite the many constraints, Africa is in a unique position to craft and apply innovative IoT policy. They are less encumbered by legacy interests, infrastructure, and policy, have lower spectrum utilization, and frequently have centralized governments capable of rapidly adopting and effecting new policies.
By examining some key concepts relating to the IoT in Africa we begin to construct the conceptual framework for further discussion, other research, and for crafting appropriate and flexible policy which advances Internet of Things innovation in developing countries.
Keywords: IoT, ICT, ICT4D, Policy, Africa, Spectrum
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