Zimbabwe approves Starlink, two weeks after a politician's son was arrested

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May 27, 2024
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2 min read
A Starlink dish placed on a fence next to a house
  • The Zimbabwean government has approved Starlink's licencing by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to promote advanced Internet and digital services.
  • Following approval, IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd will become the country's sole and exclusive local partner.
  • The approval comes two weeks after a Zimbabwe politician's son, Neville Mutsvangwa, was arrested on charges of illegally possessing a Starlink terminal and violating the Postal and Telecommunications Act.

Mutsvangwa's father is the spokesman for Zimbabwe's ruling party, while his mother is the minister of women's affairs and community development.

The Starlink device has been illegal in Zimbabwe since January 2024, when the telecommunications authority announced plans to arrest individuals and businesses found distributing and advertising the device. Despite the ban, people in Zimbabwe continued to find new ways to use Starlink.

Starlink warned its Zimbabwean users just a month before the approval, in April 2024, that it would disable its roaming service following a POTRAZ directive.

Starlink also stated that it will continue to work closely with the authority to obtain the necessary regulatory licence, and urged users to contact POTRAZ via email or phone.

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According to the president who announced the licence approval on X, "Starlink's entry into the digital telecommunications space in Zimbabwe is expected to result in the deployment of high speed, low cost LEO internet infrastructure throughout Zimbabwe, particularly in all rural areas."

In addition, the president stated that it would fulfil his administration's goal of leaving no one or place behind. “I encourage more investment by foreign conglomerates in Zimbabwe, as we are an investment destination of choice,” he added.

Zimbabwe is not the only African country to lift the ban on Starlink and grant approval. In April 2024, Ghana approved Starlink's operation and service provision in the country a month ago after declaring it illegal in December 2023. At the time, Ghana’s telco authority also alleged that any entity involved with Starlink was violating the Electronic Communications Act of 2008.


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