Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Elon Musk’s Starlink applies for licence to provide satellite internet in Zimbabwe

Starlink, an internet service with a worldwide network of satellites hovering 550 km above our heads and a service coverage that splits into continental regions, submitted its official papers for licencing in Zimbabwe, Information Minister Jenfan Muswere confirmed.

The Minister confirmed the development during an interface with local editors in Harare on Monday saying the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) Ministry is seized with the matter.

“What I remember is that they (Starlink) submitted their application for licencing and POTRAZ was still going through that application. Of course, we want to see it approved,” he said.

“It’s not possible to have fibre-optic cables across the country. It’s a reality that we need satellite technology for communication purposes.

“What we want as the government is a situation where every citizen from Binga to Chiredzi is also connected. That’s what the government wants, to leave no-one behind,” Muswere added.

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Starlink owned by Elon Musk is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access coverage to over 53 countries.
Starlink owned by Elon Musk is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access coverage to over 53 countries.

Musk, the owner of Starlink and founding Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tesla was recently revealed as one of the global businessmen interested in Zimbabwe’s lithium.

“The latest billionaire to show interest in our lithium is none other than Tesla boss Elon Musk,” said Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa.

“He has made overtures to our president and our president has sent a message to him that if he wants to come to invest in Zimbabwe it is open season, after all, he is a son of this region, he is originally South African.

“He wants to be part of this revolution; he has wider interests too. He is Afrikaner and we have had Afrikaner farmers. He wants all issues about Zimbabwe’s land reform settled, he wants peace and prosperity for the region.

“Those who had thought that Zimbabwe will remain a pariah state have been disappointed, it has changed completely, it is now a favourite destination.”

After touring the United States Starlink industry, Kenyan President William Ruto said the service will contribute to the digital economy.

“Starlink presents a promising solution for achieving universal internet access by overcoming traditional infrastructure limitations.

“Their investment has the ability to significantly enhance high-speed connectivity in remote villages, schools and various institutions across the country, thus unlocking the full potential of our digital economy,” Ruto said.

Investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono had an opinion to share about Ruto’s gesture at Starlink.

“This is the leadership that Africa needs in regards to advancing the continent’s global connectivity requirements,” Chin’ono said.

“What President William Ruto of Kenya is saying here explains why Kenya’s economy which was smaller than Zimbabwe’s in 1992 is now FIVE times bigger than Zimbabwe’s moribund economy.

“Meanwhile in Zimbabwe the agency responsible for licensing internet players @Potraz_zw issued a letter threatening citizens for using @Starlink

This is how some countries develop and also how some stay behind like Zimbabwe.

“The cost of buying Star-link internet hardware has drastically gone down in rural Britain, from US$570 (£460) to US$122 (£99).

“Any serious African Government would be looking at this like what President @WilliamsRuto is doing and seeing economic growth opportunities of building and expanding rural economies faster.

“Today fiber optic is like what the landline was to voice communications, and Star-link is like what the mobile phone became to voice communications.

Africa’s voice and data communications revolution happened because it bypassed the landline option for rural areas, it went straight to mobile phones.

“The same needs to happen and will happen with the internet as it happened with satellite television where dictators wanted to control television using draconian laws as in Zimbabwe.

“We can’t wait for fiber optic internet in Murewa or Nembudzia, Star-link is the future for these areas.

“So whilst African Governments might delay giving licenses to Star-link, they are simply delaying the inevitable that can end up happening without their participation as new technology might mean not even needing their participation.

“Any sensible African Government should license Star-link, it is great seeing people like President @WilliamsRuto saying these things publicly.

“Instead of stifling technology, he is actually asking Starlink to make the technology cheaper so that it is widely available.

“Serious Governments have done so through inviting @elonmusk and his team, because Star-link will mean faster growth for rural economies that are put online.

“Opposition parties should also be engaged in understanding these issues and explaining them to the rural youth who desire to be online but can’t because of failure by Governments to think into the future as @PaulKagame has done in Rwanda bringing internet to rural areas especially schools first using satellite and now using Star Link.

‘The knowledge divide between rural kids without access to the internet and urban (well to do) kids with access to the internet will create a serious class divide and make it difficult for rural kids to compete on the job markets.

“All these things must be explained to the citizens where governments are backward by the opposition, media and civil society!” Chin’ono explained.