Zimbabwe has received Starlink’s license application and it is currently under review by the country’s regulator, according to former Minister of ICT, Jenfan Muswere. The objective of granting the license is to improve connectivity in Zimbabwe, particularly in remote areas where traditional fiber connections are not feasible. While the focus is on remote parts of the country, urban areas with high demand for fixed internet services may also become major clients for Starlink.
However, it should be noted that the application still needs to go through the assessment process, and the regulator must be satisfied before Starlink can officially set up operations in Zimbabwe. In neighboring South Africa, Starlink faced challenges meeting regulatory terms set by ICASA, resulting in a breakdown of negotiations. This raises concerns about whether Zimbabwe’s regulator will approve the application.
Starlink initially estimated that it would start operations in Zimbabwe in Q4 of 2023. However, the company has recently revised the date to Q2 of 2024, which appears to be supported by insider sources. Demand for Starlink kits in Zimbabwe has been high, causing supply backlogs. Some individuals have even expressed interest in purchasing multiple kits for resale.
Neighboring countries, such as Mozambique and Zambia, have already approved Starlink’s application, with Mozambique being the first to have the service up and running. Zimbabweans residing near the Mozambique border have discovered that they can register the kits in Mozambique for use in Zimbabwe without needing to sign up for a roaming plan.
POTRAZ, the regulator in Zimbabwe, has allowed the use of Starlink services in the country, but compliance is necessary. POTRAZ specifically stated that satellite-based service providers, resellers, and end-users must obtain the relevant licenses in order to use Starlink services. However, monitoring compliance may prove challenging due to the ease of setting up and dismantling the portable Starlink kit.
Currently, Starlink is present in four African countries, including Mozambique, Nigeria, Kenya, and Rwanda, with Zambia being the fifth country soon to join the list. The average pricing for the Starlink kit and subscriptions in Africa is lower than in global markets. The cost in Zimbabwe is expected to follow the same trend as the technology matures and manufacturing processes become more efficient, resulting in more affordable kits.