Starlink’s Zimbabwe Entry Awaits Official Licence Application

Potraz Awaits Paperwork Amid Illegal Use Concerns

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe
Starlink Licence Application

In a recent community engagement event in Chikomba West constituency, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) clarified the situation regarding Starlink’s operations within the country. Amidst swirling rumors and concerns from the public about potential government resistance to Starlink’s presence, Potraz’s Deputy Director of Economics Tariffs and Competition, Vengesai Magadzire, addressed the issue head-on.

Magadzire emphasized that the global internet service provider, Starlink, has yet to officially apply for an operating license in Zimbabwe. This revelation came as a surprise to many, given the growing anticipation around Starlink’s potential to revolutionize internet access in the region. “As the regulator, Potraz is responsible for licensing operators in Zimbabwe. However, Starlink has not yet submitted its application for a license. We are awaiting their submission and will proceed accordingly once received,” Magadzire stated during the consumer awareness campaign.

The news follows ICT Minister Tatenda Mavetere’s announcement that Starlink had expressed interest in establishing operations in Zimbabwe. This interest highlights the urgent need for improved internet services across the country, as evidenced by the frustrations voiced by residents of Manyame Rural District Council in Chikomba West. Alderman Mufakwadziya pointed out the dire state of current network services, which fall short of supporting the government’s Vision 2030. The absence of reliable network connections hinders residents’ ability to utilize data bundles and engage in electronic transactions, emphasizing the critical need for enhanced telecommunications infrastructure.

In response to these challenges, representatives from various sectors weighed in on the importance of safeguarding consumer rights and promoting digital financial services. Philemon Chereni, Director of Corporate Services at the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), highlighted the mechanisms in place for resolving disputes between service providers and consumers, ensuring that consumer rights are upheld. Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Senior Payment Systems Analyst, Howard Tundu, stressed the value of digital financial services in safeguarding against monetary losses, albeit with a cautionary note on the risks of cybercrime.

The discussion around Starlink’s potential entry into Zimbabwe’s telecommunications landscape comes against a backdrop of increasing reliance on digital services and the imperative for robust internet connectivity. Despite the enthusiasm for Starlink’s advanced satellite internet technology, a recent incident involving a Guruve-based Chinese mining company, San He, being fined for using Starlink services without proper authorization, underscores the regulatory and legal complexities surrounding the adoption of such technologies in Zimbabwe.

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