Why is Starlink not in South Africa?

We’re exploring SpaceX’s Starlink service is NOT available in South Africa. Let’s find out!

  • Considering the leader of SpaceX is Elon Musk…
  • Considering Elon Musk was born and grew up in South Africa…
  • Considering South Africa is a leading internet market in Africa…

It is easy to imagine that South Africa would be one of the first markets to receive Starlink satellite internet service.

But Starlink is not officially available in South Africa. Why is that?

Firstly, the main hurdle is local regulatory approval. Every country has its own telecommunications regulations, and South Africa is no exception.

For a service like Starlink to operate, it needs to get the green light from local authorities. As of now, Starlink has not received this in South Africa. This is not for lack of trying. Starlink was originally scheduled to launch in South Africa in 2023.

Another major challenge for Starlink is compliance with South African regulations, specifically the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment program, popularly known as B-BBEE.

This program aims to enhance the economic participation of historically disadvantaged groups in South Africa. Starlink’s current business model doesn’t align with the B-BBEE’s requirements.

Interestingly, despite these hurdles, many South Africans are accessing the Starlink internet service through its international roaming feature.

By using a roaming package from a country where Starlink is licensed, South Africans are able to bypass these limitations, at least for now.

Some neighbouring countries to South Africa like Eswatini and Mozambique, already have official access to the Starlink internet service.

So, while Starlink is a no-go officially, it is clear that the demand and interest in South Africa are high. Will these barriers be overcome soon? Only time will tell. For now, South Africans are finding creative ways to access the next-gen internet service.

What do you think about this situation? Should Starlink make changes to comply with local regulations, or should the regulations adapt to new technologies and realities? Let us know in the comments below!

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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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