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Exclusive interview with Tony Smallwood

Tony Smallwood is the Executive Head of Vodacom IoT Solutions in South Africa. Vodacom is a returning gold sponsor at African Utility Week.

Let’s start with some background on Vodacom’s products and services for the utility and energy industries.
Vodacom provides a range of services to support the utility and energy industries. Our foundation is high quality and resilient managed connectivity to enable smart metering and Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices. In addition to connectivity, we deliver a range of industrial IoT terminals and modems as well as IoT enablement platforms, executing our strategy to move up the IoT value chain.

Any particular projects in the energy sector that you are very excited about currently?
Our recent partnership with PTC for the Thingworx IoT enablement platform (refer to recent announcement) positions Vodacom to be an IoT solutions integrator across different verticals, including the utilities vertical. A further development is the announcement of our NB-IoT network deployment to address the LPWA opportunity.

Where in Africa’s energy sectors is Vodacom focusing for growth?
Traditional smart metering solutions, from connectivity to full service delivery across the value chain.

How important is the incorporation of utility telecoms and related ICT?
The development of the IoT eco-system and emphasis on IoT has brought traditional industrial automation and ICT closer together. We see a future where these disciplines are inter-connected and inter-dependent.

What are the main challenges in the power and energy industry at the moment in your view?
The execution of IoT projects to support resource management (e.g. grid management, bulk water management) and revenue management services (smart metering) are complex, fragmented and capital intensive. Vodacom as an IoT solution integrator is positioned to deliver services to support these IoT projects.

What is your vision for this sector?
Vodacom wants to be a trusted IoT partner to the enterprises in this sector, from connectivity solutions to full IoT service delivery.

You are a gold sponsor at African Utility Week this year, tell us more about your contribution to the event (speakers at conference, workshops etc.) and what your message will be?
Vodacom is sponsoring the technology stream of this year’s event. Digitilisation, whether in the form of mobile applications, IoT and/or mobile financial services, will impact the utility sector and enterprises in the sector will be impacted in some form or another. Vodacom has a history of innovation and delivery of digital solutions, and we want to be a trusted partner to enterprises in this sector.

Vodacom has been a longstanding supporter of the event, how important is African Utility Week on the utility calendar?
The utilities sector is one of the largest adopters of IoT. African Utility Week gives Vodacom an opportunity to engage with key stakeholders across the sector and to display our capability in IoT for the sector. We often enter into new conversations with key stakeholders through our African Utility Week participation.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.