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Connectivity

SpaceX's Starlink goes live in Sierra Leone

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SpaceX's satellite Internet service, Starlink, has launched in Sierra Leone, making it the 100th country globally to go live with Elon Musk's broadband service as popularity grows on the continent.

The announcement comes a year after the country's National Communications Authority's (NATCA) granted the tech mogul's company an operating license.

In a post on X, Starlink said Sierra Leone marked the 100th country, territory or other market around the world where Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency Internet is available.

Starlink's LEO satellite services are expected to extend broadband connectivity to disadvantaged users in remote parts of the West African nation.

Starlink's website shows that, for Sierra Leonean users, the hardware will cost anywhere from £150 (US$191) to £299 ($381) and the monthly subscription fee is £75 ($95.56) per month.

The company offers a 30-day trial with no contracts or data caps and said shipping times are currently estimated to be two to three weeks.

Starlink's African growth

Starlink has been making progress with its expansion plans on the African continent, and it is likely that more countries will soon follow in the footsteps of Sierra Leone.

This is because countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe recently granted Starlink operating licenses.

Sierra Leone has become the latest African country to officially have Starlink services. (Source: Image by natanaelginting on Freepik)
Sierra Leone has become the latest African country to officially have Starlink services.
(Source: Image by natanaelginting on Freepik)

Other than Sierra Leone, Starlink also operates in several African countries including Benin, Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, as well as a number of island territories along the African coast.

The company has been making more progress with its expansion plans: At the beginning of April, Ghana's National Communications Authority (NCA) approved the application of Starlink to offer its satellite broadband services.

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

Although a few southern African countries are welcoming Starlink, its future in South Africa is unclear.

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.

Related posts:

*Top image is of Starlink availability map showing that Sierra Leone has Starlink services. (Source: Starlink's website)

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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