Africa is a Booming Continent with Massive IoT Potential

Africa, as the second-largest continent and the world’s largest free trade area, connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, boasting a GDP in the trillions. The continent’s population is projected to constitute a quarter of the global total by 2050, significantly up from just 10 percent in 1950. With such rapid growth, the demand to connect people and objects is escalating, driven by an expanding economy and population. The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to transform key verticals including telecommunications, agriculture, telematics, energy and utilities, smart cities, healthcare, and more.

The African Market Landscape for the Internet of Things

The IoT market in Africa is expected to grow at an annual rate of 15.9 percent, reaching a value of $239 billion by 2028. This growth is spurred by the need to digitize core sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and retail, creating extensive opportunities for OEMs and IoT service providers.

The Challenges for IoT in Africa

Despite the ripe market, the trajectory of IoT adoption in Africa faces significant hurdles:

1. The Network Ecosystem: Creating a “borderless continent” in terms of connectivity poses a major challenge. No single Mobile Network Operator (MNO) covers an entire country, leading to inevitable coverage gaps. This, combined with a disparate technology ecosystem over the continent’s vast expanse, complicates device connectivity and maintenance. While working with one MNO can result in carrier lock-in and lack of flexibility, collaborating with multiple MNOs introduces operational complexities like managing numerous contracts, billing systems, and provisioning processes.

2. Connectivity Challenges: The transition from 2G and 3G to more advanced technologies like 4G LTE, 5G, and low-power CAT-M and NB-IoT networks is ongoing. While older mobile networks were tailored for text and voice, aligning them with IoT’s demands—especially in a continent transitioning between generations of network technology—presents additional obstacles. A future-proof strategy is essential, though many considerations remain for the burgeoning African IoT market.

3. Network Limitations: The high costs of newer cellular technologies and the capacity demands of data-intensive devices pose further challenges. Although WiFi can alleviate some pressure from mobile networks, IoT applications, particularly in telematics, require consistent, mobile connectivity that can function across diverse and sometimes remote regions. This necessitates a multifaceted approach that blends existing cellular networks with emerging technologies and, potentially, satellite communication to ensure comprehensive and reliable coverage.

Partnering for a Seamless IoT Approach in Africa

A Multi-IMSI SIM approach can address these network challenges by facilitating high uptime in environments fraught with coverage issues. This strategy provides flexibility in network choice and a reliable fallback if the primary profile fails. By storing multiple carrier profiles on a single SIM, such as the CloudConnect Simcard, devices can seamlessly switch to the most suitable network, ensuring extensive coverage even in challenging conditions.

CommsCloud’s Cross Border SIM cards, exemplify this approach by offering optimal connectivity across borders without the need for multiple SIMs. These SIMs are specifically designed to minimise costs and maximise reliability for devices operating across multiple African countries.

In partnership with floLIVE—the largest IoT infrastructure player (SaaS) in the world—CommsCloud has leveraged this approach to deliver global IoT solutions with a local focus. By integrating MNO networks within the region into several network profiles for a single solution, CommsCloud streamline the complexities of dealing with multiple network operators into a simplified, single-pane-of-glass approach. This approach ensures the delivery of robust IoT solutions even in challenging environments like Africa, promoting a more seamless and effective implementation.


CommsCloud IoT Connectivity Solutions | Empowering Your Business to Connect, Grow, and Thrive – Contact Us | +27 21 551 5526 or  Get in Touch and follow our journey across Africa with the social media links below.