This article is a crosspost from Nuwait.
The total potential economic impact of the internet of things (IoT) is expected to reach $11 trillion a year by 2025, according to a report released by McKinsey on mapping the value of IoT. The Middle East and Africa’s IoT market is forecasted to grow 20 percent year on year in 2017 to total $7.8 billion.
The adoption of the IoT is also on the rise in many industries such as manufacturing, transport, and energy. In return, businesses are being transformed.
In line with this development, Kuwaiti entrepreneur Ali Ashkanani of AEA Manufacture, an IIoT (industrial internet of things) specialized company, aims to contribute to empowering this industry in his country.
The company launched in 2013 to offer products focusing on the energy sector, customized manufacturing and engagement with energy companies on a niche level with performance monitoring and measurement instrumentation.
Among the first founders
Ashkhanani has been passionate about science fiction since his childhood days. The rise of connected things has been nothing but an infancy fantasia.
His entrepreneurial mindset has driven him to start a small logistics company in the USA while studying there. “I became a serial entrepreneur and learned a lot from my failures and successes till I launched my business in the IoT sector.”
Though manufacturing is difficult in Kuwait due to various challenges including land scarcity and bureaucracy, technical advancements are facilitating many of these classic burdens.
“I started my business by outsourcing and using minimum viable products. With the minimum cost I made money, and I also made other companies make money too,” he said.
The time and cost of producing a product varies on project basis. Packages start from $1,000 and could rise to up to $50,000.
Much similar to any other startup business, access to finance is a key issue. AEA Manufacture received frequent funding requests, said Ashkhanani, without confirming any official deal. “When you make money, you will attract others’ money,” he commented, saying that his company is currently generating profits.
According to him, venturing in this sector requires this little extra besides just money. This involves timing, harmonious teamwork, good market research, and analysis, in addition to focus, technical abilities, and determination. AEA Manufacture’s team includes local and foreign talents.
In February 2017, AEA Manufacture signed a joint venture with Croatian-based Reaktor, a company specializing in innovation and engineering. According to Ashkhanani, sharing the same mindset brought the two companies together. The main objective of the joint venture is to serve the SMEs and niche market demands. They are already working on high tech technical products with a Kuwaiti real estate company, he said without disclosing any names.
AEA’s pipeline includes several projects, including ties with local telecom companies and global internet IoT providers. The company will be injecting more capital in the market to get other projects ready in addition to developing its teamwork.
Various IIoT initiatives in the region
IIoT is expected to add trillions of dollars to the global economy and revolutionize the pace and the quality of production. Studies show that by 2020, companies will likely spend $1.7 trillion a year, and that industrial companies are planning to commit approximately $907 billion annually to their IIoT initiatives.
The MENA is no stranger to this dynamism and the region is getting ready to embrace it.
Implementing the IIoT technology could be a solution to low oil prices. The GCC Manufacturing Excellence and Technology Summit 2017, will be elaborating on the IIoT topic in coming November.
Dubai’s plan to convert the entire Emirate into a smart city is nothing but a snap of what the future will look like. The project involves using smart sensors and devices across three tracks: ‘Smart life’ which deals with health, education, transport, communications, public utilities, energy services; ‘Smart economy’ which deals with developing smart companies, port services, stock exchanges, jobs; and ‘Smart tourism’ which deals with providing a smart and convenient environment for the visitors to the emirate, such as visa, flight, smart gates and smart hotel services.
Various companies started already implementing IoT technologies in the region. Technology giant Honeywell signed a deal with Saudi Aramco to boost cooperation in the Kingdom’s energy sector. The duo will jointly work to increase throughput, raise yield and improve reliability of Saudi Aramco’s operations by leveraging Honeywell’s cloud-based services and predictive analytics solutions.
Orbcomm signed a strategic distribution agreement with Machinestalk, an IoT solutions provider based in Riyadh, to provide Orbcomm’s global satellite, cellular and dual-mode network connectivity, hardware, web reporting applications, and software in the Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Saudi Arabia is looking to establish a $100 billion ‘Vision Fund’ that will be devoted to IoT and technological development.
IoT’s future in Kuwait
The Kuwaiti government is pushing towards integrating and deploying IoT throughout the country, and according to Ashkhanani, there is a true IoT revolution happening. The government is pushing this sector’s growth with various infrastructure developments, which is attracting various international and regional companies to the market.
In a $72 million deal, Zain, in partnership with Ericsson, will install and operate the IoT smart electricity and water systems for a seven-year period in the country.
Huawei, has an investment license in Kuwait through the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority for almost $1.7 billion, to develop and enhance the ICT sector in the country by providing innovative and integrated enterprise solutions, advanced technologies, and professional services in communications systems and equipment.
“Our government’s departments, such as the Ministry of Commerce, are already adopting smart and information technology solutions. We are far from there, but we are pushing to be where the world is currently standing and we will be there soon,” he said. The sole obstacle preventing the full deployment of IoT technologies in Kuwait would be the market immaturity.