The Zimbabwean government is currently reviewing an application for an operating license from satellite internet provider Starlink. The country’s minister of information, publicity, and broadcasting services, Jenfan Muswere, confirmed that the application is being reviewed by the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). This comes after POTRAZ issued a warning against the unlicensed use of Starlink due to reselling activities in the country.
Muswere stated that Zimbabwe is considering approving Starlink because the country faces challenges in connecting the entire nation to the internet through fiber-optic connections. He emphasized that satellite technology is necessary to ensure that all citizens, from Binga to Chiredzi, are connected. Starlink plans to launch in Zimbabwe in the fourth quarter of 2023.
In an effort to improve internet connectivity, Dark Fibre Africa, owned by Vodacom, is laying 2,000km of fiber across Zimbabwe using the major rail network. However, only 1,180km of fiber has been laid in the first phase of the project, stretching from Beitbridge to Victoria Falls. This has prompted the government to explore alternative options.
As of January 2023, Zimbabwe had 5.74 million internet users, representing a 35% penetration rate. The country aims to achieve over 75% internet penetration by 2025.