Starlink, a satellite internet service, has generated excitement among Zimbabweans due to the country’s long history of poor and expensive internet service. Although Starlink is not yet officially available in Zimbabwe, many people are hopeful that it will address the issues they have faced with local internet service providers (ISPs).
One of the main reasons why Starlink is anticipated is because of the promises of improved access, affordability, and reliability of internet service. However, it is crucial to consider the potential drawbacks of Starlink’s entry into the market.
The local ISPs have been heavily criticized for their subpar services. Despite this, the presence of Starlink could have an impact on their operations and result in job losses for Zimbabweans who are already grappling with high unemployment rates.
Another concern is what would happen if Starlink decided to exit the market. If the local ISPs were eliminated, Zimbabwe would have no local providers to fill the gap, raising questions about the country’s internet infrastructure and national security.
Speaking of national security, there are worries about the lack of control the Zimbabwean government would have over Starlink’s operations. The government has previously ordered internet providers to shut down access, and it is uncertain if Starlink would comply with such requests.
Additionally, the introduction of Starlink could potentially lead to a decrease in tax revenue for the government. Starlink offers more affordable services compared to traditional ISPs, resulting in lower tax payments to the government. This could also impact the collection of license fees from ISPs.
Another economic concern is the outflow of foreign currency. With Starlink dominating the market, Zimbabwe would need to make payments to Elon Musk’s company in foreign currency, which the country already lacks. The government would likely have to ensure a level playing field by forcing Starlink to accept the local currency. However, it remains uncertain if Elon Musk would agree to such terms.
While there are concerns surrounding Starlink’s entry into Zimbabwe, there is hope that the competition it brings will push local ISPs to improve their services and offerings. Some ISPs have already started offering better deals to attract customers, indicating their willingness to adapt and survive.
In summary, Starlink’s potential entry into the Zimbabwean market brings both excitement and concerns. While there are hopes for improved internet service, affordability, and reliability, there are also potential drawbacks related to job losses, national security, tax revenue, and foreign currency outflow. Ultimately, competition is desired, but the aim should be fostering a healthy market rather than substituting one monopoly for another.