18 May 2012

Mobile companies enter data race as MTN joins African Utility Week

Submitted by Annemarie Roodbol

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology is set to change the way a multitude of industries operate, including the electricity and water sectors, says Kevin Jacobson of MTN Service Provider who will join South African Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters and Eskom CEO Brian Dames in the opening session at next week’s African Utility Week in Johannesburg. The conference and exhibition is the largest utility services event on the continent with more than 5000 participants and takes place from 21-24 May.

M2M provides critical forewarning
Says Kevin Jacobson, MTN SP’s General Manager, Business Indirect: “M2M can sound daunting, but in essence it refers to “communication between any devices via a common network for a specific purpose.” These devices can either be used to gain access to information or send commands to other connected devices. Information is conveyed over the Internet, cellular and satellite networks to provide critical forewarning and status updates to companies, to allow them to take appropriate action and control measures in the environment within which they work.”

Better run utilities
For Africa, the presence of mobile operators in the energy industry may be new, but not for the rest of the world, says Andrew Evans, African Utility Week’s International Corporate Development Director: “Africa’s electricity and water grid is exploding at a tremendous rate and in order to ensure real-time understanding on what is happening on the grid at any point in time you need to be able to communicate, which means send and receive data. Utilities globally have realised that a better run utility (one that has fewer outages, better client inter-action, etc.) is a sustainable one. For this reason they have started looking at ways in which to understand exactly what is happening on the grid. This obviously results in massive amounts of data been received and who better to digest, store and analyse this that GSM companies that have already been doing this.”

Water and energy precious resources
MTN ’ Jacobson agrees: “With this type of technology, businesses can now proactively monitor all their devices and make informed decisions - improving overall productivity, streamlining business processes and achieving cost savings. Essentially, it's about visibility, control and foresight – and as both water and energy are precious resources - M2M solutions ensure commercial and environmental viability.”

Kevin Jacobson’s presentation on the opening day of African Utility Week on Tuesday 22 May is titled: “The future of M2M communications in Africa: what the opportunities are for utilities, governments and other stakeholders”.

Event dates
Conference: 22-23 May 2012 – opening session: 22 May
Exhibition: 21-23 May 2012
Pre-conference workshops: 21 May 2012
Site visits: 24 May 2012
Event location: Nasrec Expo Centre, Johannesburg
Website: www.african-utility-week.com