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Ghana's regulator declares Starlink operations illegal

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Ghana's National Communications Authority (NCA) has warned against the operation of SpaceX's satellite Internet service, Starlink, in the West African country.

The regulator said in a statement that it has not licensed Starlink to operate in the country and has not approved any of its equipment.

"Any entity which provides electronic communication services in Ghana without a license or authorization from the NCA is in direct violation of Section 3(1) of the Electronic Communications Act 2008, Act 775," said the NCA.

"Which states that except as otherwise provided under this Act a person shall not operate a public electronic communications service or network or provide a voice telephony service without a license granted by the Authority," the regulator's statement added.

The NCA therefore, warned Ghanaians to "desist from patronizing any equipment or service purported to be from Starlink."

Starlink's constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, launched by SpaceX, aims to provide high-speed Internet access globally, even in hard-to-reach areas.

Starlink faces pushback in Africa

Ghana is not the only country that has come out against the illegal operations of the company.

Just last month, The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) cautioned companies against importing and selling Starlink satellite Internet terminals in South Africa, calling the practice illegal and warned that fines could be imposed.

ICASA said that any person who provides a service without a license "is guilty of an offence" and liable to a fine of up to R5 million (US$265,275) or 10% of the person or licensee's annual turnover for every day or part thereof during which the offence continued.

The NCA said it has not licensed Starlink to operate in Ghana and has not approved any of its equipment.   (Source: Starlink's website)
The NCA said it has not licensed Starlink to operate in Ghana and has not approved any of its equipment.
(Source: Starlink's website)

Despite several African countries launching Starlink's services, South Africa and now Ghana have made it clear that the service provider is not welcome in their countries without a license.

In April 2023, South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, denied claims that the government was blocking the operation of Starlink, which is the brainchild of South African-born Elon Musk.

Moreover, there have been other countries on the continent that have opposed SpaceX's Starlink.

In August 2023 Senegal banned the sale of Starlink kits and five people were arrested for this offense, facing up to five years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

Zimbabwe initially issued a warning against the unlicensed use of the Internet service but is now reportedly holding licensing discussions with Starlink.

Starlink spreads its African wings

Even though there has been some opposition to Starlink's operations, other African countries have already launched the satellite Internet service.

In November Benin became the seventh country in Africa to go live with Starlink services.

Follow Connecting Africa on our new X account @connect__africa to get the latest telecoms and tech news across Africa.

Benin's launch followed launches in Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

Starlink's connectivity map shows plans for launches in many African countries in 2024, including Ghana, which is subject to regulatory approval, however, the recent declaration could put a spanner in the works.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Image by wirestock on Freepik

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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