Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana: Internet of Things Forum Africa 2019

26 March 2019

We truly live in unprecedented times!

With the fourth industrial revolution in our global midst, and on our minds every day, we have no choice but to look at how humans and machines will co-exist for the benefit of humanity. In South Africa, we are looking at what this means for our citizens both in the metros and in rural areas.

I, personally hail from a rural birthplace, and I am excited and nervous about what the developments of Internet of Things, will mean to all of us, irrespective of where we live, but with a focus on where we need to improve the lives of those who need it the most.

There is no doubt that the discussions that will take place at this very forum over the next two days, will highlight the rapid rate of scope, expansion, adaptability, and ingenuity.

It is a phenomenon of how companies are developing more, and more ways for us to connect.

Upon studying this topic over the last few months, I was excited and shocked to learn that within a mere 2 to 3 years, sensors of connectivity will likely have integrated into every aspect of our lives, from our refrigerators to our shoes, and maybe even into our bodies.

The world's technology infrastructure will support about a trillion devices, if not more, big and small, and for both personal and business use.

Forums like these are valuable to us, especially when looking at the challenges of anything that we have to take on. And, there are always challenges, and they are still great. Security, being at the top of my list and every other leader around the world, who has the task of dealing with implementation.

Then, there is the seemingly impossible task of supporting the billions, and even trillions of connected devices through a stable network infrastructure.

If there is one thing you achieve over the next 2 days, my appeal to you is to keep these 2 things a core focus when you discuss the full landscape of IoT, as the benefits are far more, but we cannot ignore the risks of the challenges.

I believe that together, business and government, can achieve a positive lived experience of IoT, for all South Africans. I would like South Africans to be some of the first in the world to experience daily life the IoT-way.

Whether that is a smart home, with technological intelligence built into our house structures, alarm clocks synced with calendar, traffic, and weather apps, or heating and cooling devices synced with external temperature sensors, or lighting and coffee machines synced with motion detectors, so that lights comes on only when we need it, and it is linked to cost structures, or the impact on waste management patterns from food in our fridges or on the side of the road, or the impact on transport.

This is one that will have a direct gratification impact to all Gautengers, and I, for one, cannot wait. There are stats that say that the use of autonomous cars could reduce commute times by 50%. Imagine the productivity effect of reducing travel time by 50%.

As someone who is very health- conscious, I am particularly excited about what IoT means for the health and wellness and medical industries.

The few simple examples I have given above demonstrate to me, that, the potential of IoT is technically limitless. Data is being referred to as the new oil, so the potential of IoT-driven-analytics also means to me that the best is yet to come, when we can analyse, measure, fix, and progress.

I leave you on the note of asking YOU to look at solutions for our country that WE can own, to allow us to enter the global competition stream of innovative and disruptive ideas that will bring the world to South Africa, for IoT solutions. We can become a leader of IoT solutions. What’s stopping us?

Speech date:: 
Tuesday, March 26, 2019