Elon Musk, CEO of US-based space exploration company, SpaceX, has announced that Starlink, its satellite Internet service, is now available in Kenya.
In January 2023, SpaceX announced plans to launch Starlink in Q2 of the year. At the time, anyone in Kenya could pre-order the service and deposit a fully refundable KSh12,260 ($99) to reserve it.
But now, customers will pay a total of KSh 92,100 ($650), which includes a non-refundable KSh 99 booking fee, KSh 3100 ($22) for shipping and installation, and KSh 89,000 ($628) for the kit — the Starlink dish, mounting stand, cables, and a power source.
The company also charges a monthly subscription fee of KSh 6500 ($46), which is expensive. Regional providers, such as Safaricom and Zuku, charge a fraction of that for traditional fibre-powered broadband connections.
Typically, customers pay a monthly subscription fee to their Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and they offer other hardware like routers for free. While Starlink charges more, local ISPs provide an Ethernet cable without charge.
Consequently, the price may be a challenge for some customers who are on a tight budget and rely on inexpensive data bundles and free public Wi-Fi hotspots.
In 2021, over 8.9 million Kenyans lived in extreme poverty, many of whom lived in rural areas. Also, more than 7.8 million Kenyans lived in rural areas on less than $1.90 daily.
Further, Internet connectivity solutions provider, Karibu Connect, announced that it is now the first authorised Starlink reseller in Kenya. Expectedly, the company will supply Starlink to diverse sectors in rural Kenya.
John Thuo, CEO of Karibu Connect, claims the collaboration marks a significant advancement in the company's goal of bringing high-quality, reasonably priced internet access to every part of Kenya.
However, it is not clear how much Kabiru Connect will charge.
Meanwhile, Starlink's entry into Kenya will make it the sixth African country where the satellite Internet service is currently available. Nigeria was first, followed by Mozambique, Rwanda, Mauritius, and Sierra Leone.
This comes after Safaricom announced its partnership with AST SpaceMobile — a competitor of Starlink — to launch a satellite Internet service to challenge Starlink.
AST SpaceMobile uses a constellation of satellites that can communicate directly with common 4G smartphones to provide low-cost broadband connectivity to rural and remote areas.