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3 African Countries Where Elon Musk’s Starlink Is Illegal

Elon Musk’s Starlink made its debut in Nigeria in January 2023, promising to usher in a new era of high-speed internet connectivity in Africa’s most populous country. It also claimed low-latency internet connection in locations where it is either unstable or unavailable.

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Starlink has currently expanded its operations to numerous more African countries, including Mozambique, Rwanda, Mauritius, and Sierra Leone, with 19 more African countries set to start in 2023 and 2024.

However, its operations in Africa have not been without obstacles, as the continent has regulatory challenges, with only 40% of its over 1.3 billion inhabitants having access to the internet, the lowest rate in the world.

Below are the African countries where the use of Starlink is illegal as compiled by Business Insider Africa.

1. South Africa

The standard model of SpaceX’s Starlink dish.

The prohibition is the result of a legislative obligation established by the Electronics Communications Act (ECA). This statute requires historically disadvantaged groups (HDGs) to control 30% of a company before it can obtain the appropriate telecom licenses to operate a local broadband service.

HDGs are people of color, youth, women, and people with disabilities. Starlink was unable to obtain the requisite telecommunications licenses because it could not meet this condition.


2. Zimbabwe

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) issued a warning to Starlink users and resellers earlier this month, noting that they must secure the requisite licenses to operate legally.

The regulator recommended two choices for the corporation to operate in the southern African country: apply for a license directly or collaborate with a recognized public network within the country to offer its services.

Concerns have been raised by the regulatory body concerning illegal businesses delivering customer premises equipment for satellite-based internet services. After receiving a local license, even local resellers must establish virtual network operator (VNO) agreements with Starlink for approval. Operating telecommunications equipment without a valid license is currently a statutory offense punished by law.


3. Senegal

The Senegalese government is taking action against people who sell Starlink in the country for “illegal provision of internet access and irregular marketing.” The raid comes just one week after the government disabled the internet for the third time in a year.

The Senegalese government detained five people on August 7th for selling Starlink terminals without a license or authorization. The five people arrested by the National Police’s Department of Urban Security face up to five years in prison and a fine of 60 million CFA ($100,000).

The telecoms regulatory authority has issued a warning to any service providers marketing Starlink, as well as any other entity engaging in similar operations, to immediately suspend all service throughout the country.

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