How SpaceX’s Starlink is expanding into Africa

Welcome to the world of Starlink, a revolutionary internet service provider that’s changing how we connect across the globe. But what exactly is Starlink?

Developed by SpaceX, Starlink uses a constellation of thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit. This network ensures high-speed internet access even in the most remote areas.

Starlink’s mission is simple yet ambitious: to provide fast, reliable internet to every corner of the planet, from bustling cities to secluded villages. It’s not just about connectivity; it’s about bridging the digital divide and unlocking endless possibilities.

But why is Starlink’s expansion into Africa so pivotal? Let’s dive into the heart of this vibrant continent.

Africa is a land of stark contrasts, with bustling urban centres and remote rural areas. Despite its rich cultural and economic potential, many regions still face significant challenges in accessing reliable internet.

In a digital era, connectivity is crucial. It drives education, business, healthcare, and more. Yet, millions in Africa remain offline, hindered by the lack of infrastructure or the high cost of existing services.

Enter Starlink. With its advanced satellite technology, Starlink is uniquely positioned to bridge this digital divide. It promises high-speed internet that reaches the unreached, empowering communities and sparking innovation.

Starlink isn’t just providing a service; it’s unlocking opportunities, connecting people, and weaving a more inclusive digital future for Africa.

Now, let’s dive into the African countries that have official Starlink service.


Nigeria was the first African country to get Starlink service back in January 2023. Being Africa’s largest population, it is easy to understand why this is so. Nigeria also a leading tech hub and market in Africa, being home to some of the biggest startup ecosystems. Another unique fact about Nigeria relative to Starlink is that Starlink’s main ground stations in Africa are in Nigeria.

One of the ground stations connects to Spain, and the other to the United Kingdom. Starlink also connects directly to the main Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Nigeria, which is known as IXPN, via 2 x 40Gbps data pipes.

Users in other African countries are thus routed through Nigeria.

Starlink ground stations, often called Starlink gateways, play a crucial role in the Starlink satellite internet system. They are the link between the Starlink satellites in orbit and the traditional internet infrastructure on the ground.

The ground stations receive data signals from the Starlink satellites overhead and then connect these signals to the existing internet infrastructure. This process allows Starlink users to access the internet via the satellite network. In simple terms, these ground stations act as intermediaries, ensuring that data flows smoothly between the satellite system and the internet, thus providing users with a stable and high-speed internet connection.

Let’s zoom into Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and a powerhouse of digital engagement. In Nigeria, internet connectivity has seen remarkable growth, becoming a vital part of daily life and economic development.
With over half the population online, Nigerians are increasingly connected through social media, e-commerce, and digital education. However, challenges remain in ensuring consistent and high-speed access, especially in rural and underserved areas.
This is where solutions like Starlink can make a significant impact, offering a new avenue for enhanced connectivity across Nigeria’s diverse landscapes.


The 2nd African country that got Starlink service was Rwanda, in February 2023.
Rwanda is a fast-growing country in the East Africa region with a very population of about 13.46 million people as of 2021 and an estimated internet penetration of about 23.8% of the population (as of the latest data from 2020). Starlink can boast the rate of the country’s transformation.

A digital revolution is underway in Rwanda, known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’. This small yet dynamic country is rapidly embracing technology and internet connectivity.

Rwanda boasts impressive internet penetration, with a significant portion of its population connected. The government’s commitment to digital transformation is evident in its push for widespread internet access, even in rural areas.
From digital education to e-government services, the internet is a key driver of Rwanda’s social and economic progress. And with solutions like Starlink, Rwanda’s ambition to become a regional tech hub takes another leap forward.


The 3rd African country that got access to Starlink services was Mozambique, back in June 2023.

Turning to Mozambique, a country with a stunning coastline and vibrant cultures, we see a growing embrace of the digital world.
Internet usage in Mozambique is on the rise, but it’s still a challenge in many areas. With a significant part of the population living in rural regions, access to reliable internet remains limited.
Mobile internet has been a game-changer, yet the need for more comprehensive and high-speed connectivity is evident. This is where innovative solutions like Starlink can play a transformative role, offering new opportunities for connectivity across Mozambique.


Kenya followed suit in July 2023.

Kenya, a leader in the African tech scene, is often hailed as a hub of innovation. It’s a country where internet connectivity has made significant strides.

With one of Africa’s highest internet penetration rates, Kenyans are increasingly connected, largely through mobile devices. Internet usage here is widespread and a driving force in sectors like finance, with mobile money services like M-Pesa leading the way.
Yet, challenges in connectivity persist, especially in remote areas. This is where technologies like Starlink can have a profound impact, offering high-speed internet access and bridging the digital divide.


Next was another eastern African country, Malawi in July 2023.

The digital landscape is gradually evolving in Malawi, known for its stunning Lake and rich cultural heritage.
Internet access in Malawi is growing, but it’s still limited, with a relatively low penetration rate compared to other African countries. The majority of online access here is through mobile networks, which are more widespread than fixed-line services.

Despite the challenges, Malawians increasingly use the internet for education, business, and communication. Innovations like Starlink could be key in accelerating internet availability and bridging the digital gap in Malawi.


Zambia followed suit in October 2023

The journey towards digital connectivity is unfolding in Zambia, a country rich in natural beauty and cultural diversity.
Internet access in Zambia is expanding, yet it remains a luxury for many. While urban areas enjoy relatively better connectivity, rural regions face significant challenges due to limited infrastructure.
Mobile internet has been pivotal in Zambia, bringing more people online. However, achieving widespread, high-speed internet access is still a goal on the horizon. This is where innovative solutions like Starlink could play a crucial role, offering new avenues for connectivity across Zambia.


Benin Republic was up next in November 2023.

In the Benin Republic, a nation steeped in rich history and culture, the digital era is gradually taking root.
While Benin has seen a steady increase in internet users, connectivity largely remains concentrated in urban areas. Rural regions often face challenges in accessing stable and high-speed internet.
Mobile internet has played a pivotal role in connecting people, yet the need for more reliable and widespread internet coverage is evident. Innovations like Starlink could be transformative, offering enhanced connectivity options to support Benin’s digital ambitions.


Eswatini was up next in December 2023.

The digital landscape is evolving in the Kingdom of Eswatini, a nation with a unique blend of traditional and modern lifestyles.
Eswatini is making strides in internet connectivity, with a significant portion of the population accessing the internet primarily through mobile devices. This mobile-first approach has driven a surge in digital activities, from commerce to communication.
However, like many countries, Eswatini needs help in ensuring consistent and high-speed internet across all regions. This presents an opportunity for technologies like Starlink to make a substantial impact, potentially enhancing nationwide connectivity.

Other Countries

Aside from these countries that are officially supported, many people in other African countries still need to be covered. They have been sourcing the hardware from neighbouring countries with service and using it via the roaming feature.

South Africa, for example, is very vast, and despite the best efforts of telcos, not every inch of the country is covered by 4G, 5G or fibre. Some in the remote parts of South Africa have thus been sourcing hardware from neighbouring Mozambique, which already has the service. The situation in South Africa is even more peculiar because a local regulation requires all ISPs to have a percentage of “black ownership”. As a result, Starlink has had to postpone their official availability in South Africa indefinitely.

Expansion plans

Except for countries like Algeria, Djibouti, Eritrea, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, the rest of Africa will likely enjoy Stalink services in 2024.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.

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