Africa’s IoT ‘Uber for Tractors’ Highlighted at Evolution Expo
Despite being one of the largest voice carriers globally, Vodafone came to the IoT Evolution Expo and TechSuperShow last week to discuss the Internet of Things in agriculture.
In an Uberlike approach, Vodafone’s connected technology is being used to enable the remote management of tractors to dramatically increase the productivity of farming in Africa.
Since 55% of farmers in Africa have never used a tractor, the startup Hello Tractor created software to link agricultural equipment dealers and owners, financial institutions and farmers, said Erik Kling, vice president of IoT, Vodafone Americas.
Knowing the location of the tractors at all times is essential, not just for the owners but also for the banking financiers who will cover them in case of payment defaults.
So Hello Tractor created a monitoring device for tractors to provide visibility into a tractor’s location via the mobile app. Vodafone’s network is used as the IoT connectivity platform.
Tractor dealers also use the IoT technology to track engine hours and scheduled maintenance.
The vehicles are owned by entrepreneurs, such as small enterprises, and used to service the farmers in the marketplace.
When a farmer needs a tractor, he or she books it via the app and a tractor with driver is dispatched.
“It’s almost the Uber for tractors,” said Kling, who presented the case study at the conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Kling said that more than 500,000 farmers are receiving services from more than 3,000 tractors and combines in Africa, suggesting that the most effective IoT implementations focus on measurable business results.
“You need to define the use case for IoT or don’t even talk about it,” Kling said. “IoT is the biggest application hub in the world.”