Keeping You posted

With Trusted Zimbabwe News as well as Local and Regional Perspectives.

Zim Gov Succumb To Pressure, Nod To Starlink

By Shingirai Vambe

After months of controversy, the Zimbabwean government has finally approved the licensing of Starlink, a satellite internet service provider owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The decision comes after immense pressure from citizens and neighbouring countries, who have been enjoying the benefits of the service.

Prior to the approval, the government had been cracking down on individuals using Starlink, with at least four people arrested for buying and using the service. The regulator, Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), had also faced criticism for its stance on the matter.

Few weeks ago, Potraz Director General, Gift Machengete, told delegates who attended the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), that Government was looking into Starlink application to operate in Zimbabwe.

Atleast four (4) people were arrested for buying and using Starlink in Zimbabwe, with the recent arrest of Neville Mutsvangwa for dealing in foreign currency and also having and operating Starlink at his residence, in Harare.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation was amongst the first to use the Internet broadband.

However, in a recent announcement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed that Starlink will be allowed to operate in Zimbabwe through its local partner, IMC Communications. The move is expected to bring high-speed, low-cost internet to rural areas, benefiting school-going children and marginalized communities.

Wicknell Chivhayo and President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the 2024 Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

The development has been welcomed by citizens, who have been complaining about the high cost of data and poor network services in the country. However, some have raised concerns about the exclusive partnership with IMC Communications, a company owned by Wicknell Chivhayo, who has been involved in previous controversies, known for the US$180 million, Gwanda Solar project which never saw light of the day.

Despite this, the approval of Starlink is seen as a significant step forward for Zimbabwe’s digital landscape, and many are eagerly awaiting the rollout of the service.

ICT Minister, Tatenda Mavetera confirmed the development and said the President has listened to the call from the citizens of Zimbabwe.

“Starlink is expected to result in the deployment of high speed, low cost, LEO (low-Earth-orbit) internet infrastructure throughout Zimbabwe and particularly in all the rural areas,” said Mangangwa.

Owner of the SpaceX, Elon Musk in his recent launch in fiji, said services by Starlink will benefit school going children and schools in rural and marginalised communities.

Starlink is the world’s first and capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls and more, leveraging advanced satellites and user hardware coupled with both spacecraft and on-orbit operations, delivering high-speed, low-latency internet to users all over the world. According to sources who have used the service before, claim it is cheap and and unlimited.

Zimbabwe was the only country in the region, disapproving the use of Starlink, with Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi being amongst the first in the Region to make use of Starlink.

The average cost of the equipment in other countries is USD$600 and USD$38 monthly subscription for unlimited data, connecting 100 devices.

Elected Member of Parliament for Binga North, Prince Dubeko Sibanda told the Post On Sunday Newspaper that this development will enhance access to news in every part of the country and Journalism will be made easy.

Commenting on the already existing players, Sibanda said, “They will be challenged to up their game, especially in areas such as pricing, I guess for their survival, they will let go most of the taxes,”.