Musk’s Starlink is changing Africa, but SA still faces a long wait – here’s why

Starlink is not yet licensed to operate in South Africa.

Starlink is not yet licensed to operate in South Africa.

Britta Pedersen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

It has been almost a year since Starlink began operating on the African continent following its launch in Nigeria, and success stories are cropping up in the eight countries where it now operates, including SA’s neighbours. However, locals must still wait to operate it legally, and the company hasn’t even applied for a licence yet.

Starlink, which is owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is a satellite internet provider that is able to provide high-speed, stable network coverage through its fleet of low-earth orbit satellites to almost any spot on the planet.

While satellite internet has been available for decades, it is only recently that companies, including SpaceX with Starlink, Amazon through its Project Kuiper, and French operator Eutelsat, have launched fleets of satellites in an orbit closer to Earth. This has significantly improved the speed and stability of networks.

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