The Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us. The exponential advancements are fast becoming a reality and Africa is a part of the current wave. On 13 December 2018, the Internet Society Botswana Chapter held an Internet of Things webinar at the University of Botswana Library to discuss local IoT-related implications. In attendance were approximately seventy-five individuals, including members of the public, academia, the developer community, and students.
A quick Internet search reveals that IoT can be synonymous with tracking and monitoring systems, wearables, and smart homes. These may not be relatable in the African context, but IoT prospective usage in farming, irrigation, and utilities management brings it home and introduces the possibilities of IoT being used to provide solutions that fit Africa’s needs. It therefore becomes important to implement a multistakeholder approach where governments and regulators provide high speed connectivity, infrastructure, and the right policies to foster local innovation.
The interactive session offered the participants an appreciation of the current IoT situation in Botswana. A remote presentation by Steve Olshansky, Internet technology program manager at the Internet Society explained the Internet Society’s view of IoT, the OTA IoT Trust by Design Framework, and why we should ensure security and privacy are engrained in IoT’s development and use. The OTA Framework document notes that that all stakeholders have a role to play in securing IoT including manufacturers, suppliers, consumers, and regulator/policymakers. Describing “data as a double-edged sword,” Steve noted that accountability by all stakeholders becomes crucial, especially given privacy concerns.
Solomon Kembo, president of the Internet Society Zimbabwe Chapter, gave a presentation on the local Chapter efforts with regards to IoT. Highlighting the progress made thus far in implementation of IoT concepts, Solomon also described technical IoT framework perspectives. The Botswana Chapter’s collaboration with the Zimbabwe Chapter on IoT shows how Chapters can work together to achieve common objectives.
The Q&A session was a key indicator that the local Chapter needs to invest in future public awareness training exercises on IoT and engage with policymakers. In summary the concerns noted were:
- Are stakeholders in Botswana ready to embrace IoT and related trends?
- How can local entrepreneurs leverage current digital trends?
- How can regulators and policymakers address cybersecurity concerns?
- What learnings can we adopt from regions that have embraced IoT technologies?
This conversation is key in unlocking the digital possibilities for communities in Botswana and beyond. The call to attendees was to embrace trending technologies with caution and to implement relevant context-based solutions.
We’re looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make their community better using the Internet. The Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme funds projects up to $30,000.00 USD.