Edge computing’s role in overcoming remote area challenges in West Africa

By Dapo Sosanya, Sales Leader, Process Automation, West Africa at Schneider Electric

West Africa’s communications infrastructure is enjoying some exciting growth with telecommunication companies expanding LTE and VoLTE (voice over LTE) networks to remote areas.

Dapo Sosanya, Sales Leader,
Process Automation,
West Africa at Schneider Electric

Driving this growth is countries like Nigeria which are proactively rolling out telecommunications services to remote areas. For example, a recent announcement by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) confirmed that in the last decade the number of identified areas of clusters without access to telecommunications services has been reduced by 53.1 per. This means that since 2013, Nigeria has managed to cut down these clusters from 207 to 97, a significant number.

Considering the above growth, edge computing has a valuable role to play, offering tangible solutions to remote location challenges such as latency whilst enabling offline operations and bandwidth cost savings. By utilising edge computing, telcos can place computing devices at the source to process data locally and send results to the cloud.

Unlike traditional, centralised computing, where data travels to a remote data centre for processing, edge computing enables computational tasks to occur at the edge of the network – where the data is generated. This not only minimises data transfer delays but also enhances the efficiency of applications that demand instantaneous response.

Meeting industry’s remote demands

As mentioned, edge computing plays an important role in overcoming latency issues. Like its counterparts across the world, West Africa industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas and telecoms require almost instantaneous insight into data to optimise and enhance operational efficiency. Edge computing ensures critical decisions can be made on the fly.

Looking at West Africa’s vast geography, again edge computing can overcome the challenges associated with traditional data processing. Remote assets, like offshore oil wells, located hundreds of kilometres away from established infrastructure, now benefit from edge computing’s at-the-source computing capabilities.

Bandwidth savings is another important driver. With localised data processing, the volume of data that needs to be transmitted to centralised data centres is significantly reduced, translating to reduced bandwidth costs.

Region and partner commitment

Unfortunately, the deployment of edge computing does not come with its own challenges. The region is facing a considerable skills gap with experienced and professional individuals leaving their countries to find work elsewhere.

It is therefore important that countries and the technology industry in the region retain and hone these valuable individuals to ensure the projected technological growth stays on course.

At Schneider Electric, we participate in industry events like IoT and Oil and Gas conferences to create important awareness of technology and solutions such as our EcoStruxure software architecture which enables organisation to manage their edge computing infrastructure securely, efficiently and sustainably.

Furthermore, we collaborate with organisations like such as the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) such as develop local talent and capacity.

Our aim is to train of skilled individuals that is well well-versed in Schneider Electric’s technology and our applications across multiple industries and segment that include edge computing. This commitment also spans beyond training, we run dedicated internship programmes which include providing opportunities for these individuals to work professionals that establish strong foundation from which to build their own careers.