Zimbabwe says Elon Musk’s Starlink yet to pay application fees to operate in the country


HARARE — Zimbabwe’s government said Wednesday last week that Starlink, a satellite internet service owned by American billionaire Elon Musk, has not paid the required fees to operate in the country.

Starlink coming to Zimbabwe but no application fees yet
Image: TechInside

Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera told reporters after a cabinet meeting that Starlink had expressed interest in providing internet access to Zimbabwe through its network of more than 4,000 satellites in low earth orbit, but had not followed through with the application process.

“They communicated through POTRAZ (the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) that they are willing to engage with the Zimbabwe government. But I'm told they have not been able to pay for the application fees,” Mavetera said.

She said POTRAZ’s structure requires any company that wants to have a telecommunications license to pay a certain amount of money, which she did not specify.

“So, because of that, Starlink has not been able to do that. They said they want to, but they have not been able to come back to us. But of course, we are working flat-out to make sure that we have got reliable connectivity and affordable data,” she added.

Starlink, which is operated by Musk's aerospace company SpaceX, has rolled out its service in several African countries, including Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Reunion, Malawi and Zambia, but still needs regulatory approvals in many others, including Zimbabwe.

Starlink claims to offer internet speeds of up to 200 megabits per second, which are six times faster than local internet services, which are also expensive. 

It also promises to provide a huge advantage to remote areas where telecommunications technology and infrastructure are lacking.

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