Starlink: Where in Africa can you get it?

The satellite internet arm of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Starlink, announced on Tuesday that it launched in Kenya, bringing the East African country into an exclusive club of nations on the continent that have access to its easy-to-setup coverage.

Kenya’s inclusion is part of a wider roll-out to cover all of sub-Saharan Africa in the near future with SpaceX’ internet connection. A boon for communities in rural and remote regions where access to internet infrastructure is virtually non-existent.

Dispersed by over 3 000 low orbit satellites that stream across the night sky, Starlink saw its initial deployment in 2019. By 2021 it had over 90 000 users across the globe and grew exponentially. Now it has more than 1.5 million subscribers according to CNBC.

It has officially launched on every continent, including Antarctica where remote facilities are connecting researchers to speedy internet. However, it is not available in every country with the most coverage in the Americas and Western Europe.

In Africa, now with Kenya’s addition, Starlink can be subscribed to in Nigeria, Mozambique and Rwanda according to its coverage map.

African nations where you can get Starlink highlighted in light blue. Image sourced from

The rest of Africa is bathed in the navy of “coming soon.” South Africa was promised Starlink availability in 2022, but this project has seen delay after delay. The Daily Maverick reported on the difficulties that Starlink was having in South Africa, including coming up against BEE legislation.

“…for Starlink to operate in South Africa, they require… individual IECS/IECNS applicants or licensees to have a minimum 30% equity ownership held by persons from historically disadvantaged groups,” explained Mondli Gungebele, South Africa’s digital technologies minister.

Effectively, Musk will have to hand over 30 percent of Starlink’s equity to a “black empowerment group” in order to achieve BEE certification to launch the service locally. The possibility of this being less than zero.

Government agencies like ICASA have met with Starlink representatives in the past, but nothing solid has emerged from talks.

Despite legislative barriers, South Africans have managed to import Starlink equipment from overseas and get themselves into the service without regulatory approval. According to News24, over a thousand individuals are taking advantage of the satellite internet locally.

However, this defeats the larger purpose of Starlink, to provide fast, reliable internet to those whom the internet has historically struggled to reach. That being South Africa’s vast unconnected and unprivileged population.

It seems Nigeria and Kenya will continue to leapfrog over South Africa in terms of technological innovations, and countries like Mozambique and the emerging technological market Rwanda are allowing their citizens to take advantage of these innovations long before other nations.

[Image – Photo by Mariia Shalabaieva on Unsplash]


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