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Starlink gets approval to beam into Botswana

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Botswana has become the latest African country to grant SpaceX's satellite Internet unit, Starlink, an operating license.

The approval follows a meeting between Starlink executives and the country's President Mokgweetsi Masisi in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month.

At that meeting, Starlink executives expressed an interest in obtaining an operating license in the southern African country.

In his remarks posted on his office's official Facebook page this week, Masisi said the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) was asked to fast-track Starlink's application.

"Starlink is now registered in Botswana," Masisi added.

It is, however, unclear when Starlink will become operational in the country and which company will be responsible for the distribution of the service.

Starlink's license approval follows BOCRA reportedly rejecting Starlink's application for a license in the country in February 2024.

Botswana's approval follows a meeting between Starlink executives and the country's President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the US earlier this month.   (Source: Starlink's website)
Botswana's approval follows a meeting between Starlink executives and the country's President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the US earlier this month.
(Source: Starlink's website)

At the time, the regulator said that, contrary to media reports, BOCRA had not rejected any satellite licensing applications.

However, two weeks later, Botswana banned the import, use and sale of Starlink kits or services within the country.

Starlink grows in Africa

Botswana is the latest southern African country to license Starlink after Zimbabwe approved the service last week Saturday.

"I'm pleased to announce that I have approved the licensing of Starlink by POTRAZ to provide advanced Internet and related digital processing services in Zimbabwe through its sole and exclusive local partner, IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd," Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said in a social media post on X.

Starlink is already operating on the African continent in Benin, Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

At the beginning of April, Ghana's National Communications Authority (NCA) approved the application of Starlink to offer satellite broadband services.

But it's not all been plain sailing for the Elon Musk owned company: In late April, Cameroonian authorities reportedly banned the import of Starlink satellite Internet kits into the central African country and started seizing the equipment at the border.

Though some southern African countries are welcoming Starlink, it is yet to be seen if the services will be allowed in South Africa.

In February Starlink cut off hundreds of South African users over alleged trademark and copyright violations.

In November 2023, 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 warning that fines could be imposed.

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*Top image source: Image by wirestock on Freepik

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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