JOHANNESBURG, Nov 6 (Reuters) - The bulk of mobile machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are now in developing countries, including in Africa, according to a mobile operators’ trade body, helping leapfrog technological development on the world’s poorest continent.
By the end of 2014, the number of cellular M2M connections - also known as the “Internet of Things” (IoT) - in the developing world will total 128 million, or 52 percent of the global numbers, global industry lobby GSMA estimates.
This should rise to nearly 60 percent or 575 million in another six years.
In Africa, there were 7 million mobile connections of the new technology wave by June 2014, and this number could quadruple by 2020. Most people on the continent access the Internet from mobile devices.
“In Africa sometimes you can leapfrog and go to the latest in innovation and technology at the same time. It is absolutely excellent,” said Anne Bouverot, GSMA’s Director General.
“M2M started earlier in developed markets but now it is another area that the developing world has overtaken the developed world,” she said.
There has been a global surge in demand for M2M communications, or using the Internet to get products from cars and fridges to pet collars and toilets to carry out more tasks, more efficiently.
In Africa, IoT initiatives has been chiefly for vehicle tracking, mobile payments and smart cities.
South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, has been the leader in rolling out Internet-connected devices, with the latest project being smart meters for a power utility in the country’s biggest city Johannesburg.
Other African countries are also adopting initiatives quickly, with nations like Rwanda using SIM cards to connect point of sale terminals in remote areas enabling merchants to accept credit or debit card payments. (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by Michael Urquhart)