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M2M technology driving agriculture's industrialisation

By Mariana Kruger, General Manager for Private Sector at MTN Business South Africa

The agriculture and ICT sectors are heading for a union that is being brought about by natural calamity, economic developments and changes in the ICT space.

Natural disasters such as drought, coupled with farmers' security and the rising operational costs in the agricultural space, are driving the quest to help improve safety, efficiency and stimulate growth. ICT advancements such as the Internet of things (IOT), improved connectivity, monitoring and control applications as well as M2M technology present an opportunity for farmers to help improve their operations and growth steadily.

IOT has opened up productive ways for farmers to make informed decisions when planting, cultivating soil, observing movements of their livestock and equipment checking for maintenance, with the use of monitoring and control applications that provide insightful data and regular alerts.

According to MTN, wholesale M2M in the country is already worth an estimated R350 million, and is expected to grow to R1.2 billion by next year.

Given the ability to automate many monitoring and control functions through intelligent devices, agriculture is a prime target for leveraging M2M capabilities. Whether collecting data from sensors connected to production machinery, livestock, vehicles, dam level or soil moisture monitors, M2M technology offers farmers an opportunity ripe for the picking.

The automation of basic functions allows producers to deploy their workforce to tasks in which they can further increase production output.

Telecommunications providers such as MTN have responded to M2M developments in agriculture and other sectors by providing platforms and networks dedicated to carryout IOT connections and data.

Leveraging on these expected developments, MTN is making a significant investment into a Pan-African IOT platform, not only to inspire innovative thinking and enable growth of its clients, but also to provide enterprises with greater control and advanced management features for their connected devices and SIM cards.

In addition to providing this platform, MTN - through MTN Business - has also introduced initiatives such as the Mind-2-Machine Challenge to encourage developers to create scalable and relevant business solutions that solve real-world problems.

Adroit Technologies, the winner of last year's inaugural challenge, developed an app that monitors, controls and manages geographically distributed generator sites by inspecting power, fuel and alarm systems. Given the widespread use of standalone power systems in agriculture, this solution is bound to find ready application throughout the sector.

MTN

MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: "MTN".

As at the end of 30 June 2010, MTN recorded 129.2 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. The MTN Group is a global sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East. Visit http://www.mtn.com and http://www.mtnfootball.com.