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Top 10 African Internet of Things startups to watch

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Top 10 African Internet of Things startups to watch.
Top 10 African Internet of Things startups to watch. (image source: Flickr/JCT600)

IoT is growing and will continue to grow beyond 2017. IHS Technology predicts that there will be 75 billion connected devices by 2020.

IoT is about connecting exponentially more devices to the internet. This trend promises to make our global society more efficient and productive than we ever imagined possible.

The Internet of Things is disrupting every aspect of business and industry. It is transforming the way industries function and interact with the world. IoT is also impacting the way people live, work, entertain, and travel. According to Gartner, there will be 8.4 billion connected things in use worldwide this year. On the back of this trend, a number of startups have come up with innovative IoT solutions to our most difficult challenges in energy, safety and security, healthcare and food security. Here’s a list of 10 African IoT startups to watch this year.

1. UjuziKilimo
Kenya-based UjuziKilimo has developed a soil analysis platform that measures soil characteristics for assessing quality in farming use cases. Hardware elements of the solution include an electronic sensor placed in the ground, which alerts and gives farmers guidance, via SMS, on real-time soil conditions. The startup uses Big Data analytics to provide useful insights on farming trends and productivity based on the accurate data that is generated. UjuziKilimo uses the data to further customise farmer recommendations and make the advice more actionable.

2. Vula Telematix
Vula Telematix has partnered with San Diego-based Ingenu to develop “The Machine Network SA,” a network providing IoT and M2M solutions with further reach, a global range, and longer lasting battery life than any existing network. The company’s Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology connects machines wirelessly for lowering development costs and enabling a faster time-to-market. Vula Telematix is enabling the Internet of Things in South Africa.

3. IoT.nxt
IoT.nxt is an innovator in the Internet of Things sector. IoT.nxt offers technology agnostic solutions which enable their customers to deploy best of breed technologies but at the same time, have interoperability and interconnectivity between deployed system. The platform allows businesses to leverage off existing investments in systems and devices already installed – no rip and replace.

4. HealthQ
Stellenbosch-based HealthQ develops technologies for helping users monitor their overall health and fitness. The company’s solutions use state-of-the-art biomathematical models to power fitness trackers and other wearable devices such as TomTom’s highly popular Runner2/SPARK. The company creates an environment where experts from various fields including life sciences, hardware engineering, machine learning, mathematics, physics and cloud computing can cross-pollinate ideas to provide out-of-the-box solutions, developing cutting-edge technologies, whilst working on difficult problem-solving.

5. Illuminum Greenhouses
Kenyan startup Illuminum Greenhouse develops innovative solutions for the agricultural sector. Its greenhouses use solar panels and sensors to control and maintain an optimal growing environment. The startup constructs affordable, modern greenhouses and installs automated drip irrigation kits for smallholder farmers by using locally available materials and solar-powered sensors. The iHub based startup embeds sensors in the soil that read how much moisture there is. When the sensors detect that water is needed they trigger an irrigation system which then provides the exact amount of water needed.

6. Chimera IoT 
Chimera IoT is a Kenyan startup that develops smart home application and systems. Once the Chimera hardware is installed, all of the home’s functions can be controlled via the application installed on the homeowner’s smart device. With an aim to “help Kenya and Africa stay ahead of the competition”, Chimera IoT hopes to let homeowners focus on more important things in life and at home while its system takes care of habitual functions. Chimera’s technology allows the user to control simple functions such as lighting, temperature control, and audiovisual integration, allowing users to adapt their environment to their mood.

BRCK created the PicoBRCK, which is a rugged mobile WiFi hotspot that’s described as a backup generator for the internet. The device has been designed by the same team in Nairobi, Kenya who is behind Ushahidi, Crowdmap and the iHub and manufactured by Silicon Hills Design. In 2013, the startup raised over US$172 000 on Kickstarter and secured an investment worth US$1.2 million the following year. BRCK is the only company in East Africa that has a full stack of engineering for products: electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, firmware and OS software teams, as well as full-stack cloud engineers. The company connects markets to the internet.

8. Lumkani
Lumkani is responsible for an early-warning fire detection system geared for informal settlements. Founded in South Africa, the startup has developed a small blue device which consists of heat detectors for homes. These are networked with radio frequency and centralised units. When heat is detected, the mesh network is triggered, sending SMSes with GPS locations to community leaders and the local fire department, alerting them of danger. In 2014 it won the award for best startup in the Global Innovation through Science and Technology challenge as well as being one of the finalists in the SeedStars World challenge held in Geneva, Switzerland.

9. ProximityID
Cardless instant identification and access control startup, Proximity ID digitally links users to the physical world. The company received the Wildcard award at the MTN 2017 Internet of Things Awards. The ProximityID solution brings a digital intelligence experience to real-world surroundings, allowing our users to connect with the locations and brands they love to visit and experience. ProximityID’s technology combines the respective details, loyalty cards, access cards and parking tickets and consolidates them into users smartphone.

10. MCX AgriTech
South African Indoor farming system, MCX AgriTech aims to improve the sustainability and efficiency of agriculture. MCX AgriTech received an award for the Best Enterprise Development at the MTN 2017 Internet of Things Awards. The company augments agriculture with automated vertical farming. The organisation was founded in 2016 and the mission is to improve the sustainability and efficiency of agriculture.

IT News Africa will host the second edition of the Internet of Things Forum Africa on 14 and 15 March 2018 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Internet of Things Forum Africa 2018 (#IOTFA2018) will tackle transformational IoT trends and explore the benefits of IoT in different industries.

The next edition of IoT Forum Africa will also feature industry tracks with speakers discussing the potential impact of IoT in manufacturing, energy, finance, transportation, retail, security, mining and in government.

For more information visit

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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