Elon Musk’s satellite internet service provider (ISP), Starlink, has officially launched in Eswatini, making the Southern African country the eighth and tenth overall market in Africa to be issued Starlink connection.
The announcement for the launch, which occurred on Monday, 18th December, follows Starlink’s successful navigation of regulatory and technical requirements, receiving its operating license in June 2023.
Starlink utilises low earth orbit satellites to deliver broadband internet services to both urban and remote areas, offering capabilities for streaming, online gaming, and video calls. Eswatini has a population of just over 1.2 million, with over 710,000 of them being internet users.
The ISP’s “Residential” package in Eswatini is priced at R1,070 ($58) per month, with customers paying another R12,450 ($670) for hardware and shipping costs for the Standard rectangular antenna. While Starlink aims to provide Eswatini with advanced connectivity options, the country’s high poverty rates, with over 55% of the population living on less than $3.65 a day, may pose challenges for widespread adoption.
Starlink’s presence in Africa extends beyond Eswatini, with operations in Mozambique, Rwanda, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Nigeria. However, regulatory hurdles persist in Zimbabwe and Botswana, where authorities are still evaluating the company’s application for an operating license.
In contrast, South Africa, potentially Starlink’s largest and most lucrative market in the region, faces regulatory pushback. The country’s competition regulations state that Starlink’s South Africa subsidiary must allocate 30% ownership to historically disadvantaged groups, a requirement the company appears to be contesting.
As Starlink continues its expansion across Africa, its ability to navigate regulatory landscapes and address socioeconomic considerations will play a crucial role in determining its success in providing reliable and accessible satellite internet services to diverse communities on the continent.