Govt to announce modalities of Starlink’s licence

26 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Govt to announce modalities of Starlink’s licence Minister Mavetera

The Sunday Mail

Sunday Mail Reporters

THE Government will soon announce “technical modalities” for the licensing of satellite internet service provider Starlink by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), it has been learnt.

This comes as President Mnangagwa announced through his X (formerly Twitter) handle that he had “approved the licensing of Starlink by Potraz” as part of a deliberate effort to provide advanced internet and related digital processing services in Zimbabwe.

Owned by South Africa-born American billionaire Mr Elon Musk, Starlink is a satellite internet system and low-earth orbit (LEO) operator renowned globally for delivering high-speed internet to users.

The Government’s latest initiative seeks to boost the digital economy, bridge the digital divide and deliver on its promise to “leave no one and no place behind”.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last night, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Tatenda Mavetera said: “We are happy that we have a listening President.

“We are soon going to announce the technical modalities together with Potraz.

“Already, there has been a pronouncement that has been made by the President and this will ensure that no one and no place is left behind.”

In a separate interview, Potraz director-general Dr Gift Machengete said the company had “applied for a licence” and “were consulting”.

In a statement on X, President Mnangagwa said Starlink’s arrival will usher in a new era of high-speed, low-cost internet services.

“The entry by Starlink in the digital telecommunications space in Zimbabwe is expected to result in the deployment of high-speed, low-cost LEO internet infrastructure throughout Zimbabwe and particularly in all the rural areas. This will be in fulfilment of my administration’s undertaking to leave no one and no place behind,” said President Mnangagwa.

Innovation, science and technology are some of the strategic pillars that anchor the Second Republic’s developmental agenda under Vision 2030.

Prioritisation of the digital economy and the emerging importance of technology in day-to-day activities, he added, requires the Government to lead from the front in providing an environment where investment in technology is promoted.

“In this vein, I am pleased to announce that I have approved the licensing of Starlink by Potraz to provide advanced internet and related digital processing services in Zimbabwe through its sole and exclusive local partner, IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd.”

Starlink is wholly owned by global conglomerate Space X, headed by Mr Musk, who is currently rated as the third richest person in the world.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is an “investment destination of choice”.

He encouraged more foreign companies to consider investing in the country.

“I encourage more investment by foreign conglomerates in Zimbabwe as we are an investment destination of choice. I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, to congratulate IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd and Starlink on this commendable milestone aimed at revolutionising the digital and communications technology landscape in Zimbabwe,” added the President.

“Investments of this magnitude and strategic importance represent the cornerstone for achieving the Second Republic’s objective of having a fully digitalised, upper middle-income economy by 2030.”

The satellite internet technology provided by Starlink offers universal connectivity at what most analysts consider competitive prices, as well as unlimited data, seamless self-installation and high internet speeds.

The company’s hardware costs an estimated US$600, while subscriptions average US$50 per month.

However, this fee affords subscribers unlimited internet that has download speeds of above 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

It is believed the cheapest unlimited internet service one can get in Zimbabwe costs about US$240 — US$190 more than Starlink’s — but the speeds are roughly a fifth of what Starlink is able to provide.

According to Potraz statistics, Zimbabwe’s internet penetration is around 70,1 percent.

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