In 2002, Elon Musk established SpaceX, a company specializing in aerospace manufacturing and space transportation services. SpaceX made headlines in 2019 when they successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, providing internet service. These satellites reached an altitude of 342 miles above Earth.
As of October 2023, Starlink is now accessible in six African countries: Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. Plans are underway to expand to eight more African countries by the end of the year. The goal is to offer fast and reliable internet access to people around the world. The additional countries include Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Tanzania, Ghana, and Eswatini.
Starlink operates a satellite network that provides low-cost internet connectivity. Currently available in 40 countries globally, each satellite weighs approximately 1,760 lbs at launch and has a lifespan of about five years. SpaceX plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites, with over 4,500 already in orbit as of July.
Elon Musk described Starlink as a means of “rebuilding the internet in space.” This technology brings critical services, such as healthcare, education, and communication support, to remote and underserved areas, making a significant impact in Africa. The continent has the lowest internet distribution, particularly in rural regions.
Only Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique currently have access to Starlink’s high-speed and reliable internet connections. These areas are often lacking proper internet infrastructure, resulting in limited availability and slow speeds. Starlink’s expansion has the potential to boost the economies of these countries and attract new business investments.
To further its reach in Africa, Starlink has partnered with Jumia Technologies AG, an e-commerce company. Jumia will offer Starlink’s satellite terminals and equipment to areas without city mapping and formal addresses, starting in Nigeria. Building infrastructure in remote regions has historically posed challenges for telecommunication providers. Previous attempts to deliver broadband in innovative ways, using drones or helium-filled balloons, have not been successful.
Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network is bridging the digital divide in Africa by providing high-speed internet to underserved communities. The partnership with Jumia Technologies is a significant step towards transforming Africa’s digital landscape, unlocking new opportunities for connectivity and economic growth.