Starlink’s African expansion faces regulatory hurdles

In its ambitious expansion of satellite Internet services, Starlink has encountered regulatory hurdles in several African countries, including Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Starlink’s African expansion faces regulatory hurdles

Botswana rejected Starlink’s application due to a lack of clear requirements. While the exact nature of these requirements is unclear, Starlink’s willingness to apply suggests that it is feasible to rectify them.

In South Africa, Starlink did not apply because it was unwilling to comply with the local ownership requirement of 30 per cent local ownership. This position poses a significant obstacle, as it seems unlikely that Starlink will budge on this issue, and may therefore require reconsideration by the Government.

Similarly, in Zimbabwe, Starlink did not apply for a variety of reasons, including a reluctance to cooperate with local Internet access service providers or concerns about government-required data access and lawful interception.

In Botswana, the regulatory framework imposes financial obligations on Starlink, including application and annual license fees and a percentage of annual operating revenues. Zimbabwe has slightly lower fees, but also levies fees and a percentage of turnover, and there are concerns that higher fees may be politically demanded.

Meanwhile, Starlink has secured licenses in Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, demonstrating Starlink’s varying degrees of success in the continent’s regulatory environment.

Navigating different regulatory environments and addressing local concerns will be key to Starlink’s success in providing satellite Internet access to underserved communities as it works to overcome these challenges and expand its operations in Africa.

In its ambitious expansion of satellite Internet services, Starlink has encountered regulatory hurdles in several African countries, including Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Botswana rejected Starlink’s application due to a lack of clear requirements. While the exact nature of these requirements is unclear, Starlink’s willingness to apply suggests that it is feasible to rectify them.…

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