SpaceX has announced that its satellite internet service wing, Starlink, has been approved in Nigeria and Mozambique. According to Starlink’s coverage map, the service will be active in Nigeria during the third quarter of this year, while Mozambique will go live in the fourth quarter.
Other African countries, including South Africa, indicate “Starting in 2023” as their estimated coverage dates for the service.
According to Starlink, it will be able to provide speeds of between 150-500Mbps once it has a sufficient number of satellites in orbit.
In South Africa, the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) confirmed that it had started discussions with SpaceX regarding regulatory approval in the country.
However, Starlink faces numerous challenges to its rollout in South Africa.
One being the new black empowerment regulations introduced for South Africa’s telecom providers, which has created uncertainty over whether the service would be permitted to launch in the country.
According to the new regulation, SpaceX would need a licence from ICASA to become an Internet service provider (ISP) in the country.
SpaceX will also need a licence to use the radio frequency spectrum to transfer signals from its satellites to customer terminals.
In April 2021, the ICASA published regulations that seek to force Internet service providers to have 30 per cent black ownership.
The regulator also requires that previously disadvantaged groups should hold 30 per cent of an ISP’s ownership equity, which includes black people, women, people with disabilities, and the youth.
However, SpaceX is a privately owned entity, with Elon Musk Trust holding 47.4 per cent equity and employees owning a certain portion of the company.
ICASA is yet to announce the commencement date for the new regulation.
The regulator also mentioned that it would not issue new licences to any Internet service providers that do not meet the black ownership requirement.