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Starlink’s African Expansion Hits Regulatory Roadblocks


Elon Musk’s satellite internet company, Starlink, is facing a series of setbacks in its quest to expand its services across Africa. The latest development comes from Zimbabwe, where the government has ordered the company to shut down its operations in the country.

According to a communication sent to Starlink users in Zimbabwe, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has directed the company to disable its service, citing unauthorized operations. Starlink acknowledged the order and stated that it will continue to work with the regulator to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals to resume its services in the country as soon as possible. The company also encouraged its users to reach out to POTRAZ and express their support for Starlink, in the hopes of convincing the regulator to grant the required approvals.

Starlink’s challenges in Africa are not limited to Zimbabwe. The company has experienced similar difficulties in other parts of the continent, particularly in South Africa and Botswana.

In South Africa, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) ordered IT Lec, the sole importer of Starlink kits, to cease the importation and sale of the company’s products. Although IT Lec had found a workaround to serve its customers, ICASA has now issued a strong warning to abandon this approach.

Botswana’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) went a step further, outright prohibiting the importation, use, and sale of Starlink kits and services within the country. BOCRA had earlier rejected Starlink’s application to operate in Botswana, citing the company’s failure to meet all regulatory requirements.

Starlink has also faced regulatory challenges in Ghana, although the Ghanaian authorities have assured the public that they will grant the company a license once it fulfills all necessary regulatory requirements.

These regulatory hurdles have posed significant obstacles for Starlink’s expansion plans in Africa. The company’s ambition to provide high-speed, low-latency internet access to underserved and remote areas of the continent has been met with caution and resistance from some governments.

As Starlink continues to navigate the complex regulatory landscape in Africa, it will need to work closely with local authorities to address their concerns and secure the necessary approvals. The outcome of these regulatory battles will likely have a significant impact on the company’s ability to bring its innovative satellite-based connectivity solutions to more African communities.



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