Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Jenfan Muswere has announced that Zimbabwe has received an application from Starlink to obtain a license for offering satellite internet services.
Muswere stated that the application is currently under review by the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). It is anticipated that the application will likely be approved. Muswere who was the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services before his recent appointment to the Ministry of Information made the remarks during a meeting with editorial executives of privately-owned media organisations. He said:
What I remember is that they submitted their application for licencing and POTRAZ was still going through that application… Of course we want to see it approved.
It’s not possible to have fibre-optic cables across the country. It’s a reality that we need satellite technology for communication purposes. What we want as the government is a situation where every citizen from Binga to Chiredzi is also connected. That’s what the government wants, to leave no-one behind.
Starlink is a satellite internet venture owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Starlink has already introduced its services in various African countries, but it still needs to obtain regulatory approvals in many other nations.
Starlink expects to launch its services in Zimbabwe in the last quarter of 2023, as stated on its website. However, the final approvals from the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) are taking longer than anticipated.
Starlink is seen as a potential solution to the limited internet connectivity in remote areas of Zimbabwe where it is economically unfeasible for mobile phone companies to install towers due to sparse populations. The company’s technology enables the transmission of broadband signals to areas with limited ground infrastructure or where installation would be expensive or challenging.
While Starlink offers faster internet speeds compared to the average in Zimbabwe, the service comes at a higher cost. Its affordability remains a concern, given that the average wage for Zimbabwean workers is below US$200. Many hope that Starlink’s entry into the market will lead to reduced internet prices, which are currently among the highest in Africa. This may require investments from non-governmental organizations and the government to make the service accessible to underserved populations.