What Musk satellite internet plan means for Tanzania

Summary

  • Starlink stated their goal to offer the services between January and March, subject to regulatory permission

Dar es Salaam. Elon Musk’s internet service Starlink is set to be available in the country in the first quarter of 2023, with analysts cautiously saying the new development will boost the digital economy.

The service, which is owned by the SpaceX Company, has been providing internet connectivity using thousands of satellites in space which communicate with designated ground transceivers.

Those who spoke yesterday said that the new service will only stimulate the digital sector if it is reasonably priced and provides fast internet.

On their official website, Starlink announced their plan to bring the services by between January and March depending on regulatory approval.

Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) director general Jabiri Bakari confirmed to The Citizen that the Starlink Company had made an application.

When asked if he was aware of the Starlink Corporation’s impending arrival, Dr Bakari replied: “Yes, I am aware that the company had made an application through a portal.

The only African nations that have so far let Starlink to operate are Nigeria and Mozambique. This was done after obtaining regulatory permits from both nations.

Whether or not the Starlink will have a significant impact will depend on how quickly and affordably the business expects to deliver its service, according to economist Abel Kinyondo from the University of Dar es Salaam.

“Internet service is no longer a luxury, but something which it is a basic need. Its high speed and affordability could mean high speed and fast access to information,” he recounted.

He went on explaining: “if the service promises, it is going to help farmers get information about the weather and how they can improve their crops.”

Again, it will help traders do their online businesses and also get training meant to make them do it better.

“This service will set a stage for the growth of the digital economy in the country,” he exuded his optimism. His sentiments were echoed by an innovator and technology enthusiast Mr Jumanne Mtambalike on the grounds that the Starlink internet service will stimulate the digital economy.

Mr Mtambalike, who doubles as the Sahara Ventures CEO, said the service will shape various sectors ranging from agriculture, education to health. “I am optimistic the Starlink internet service will create an enabling environment for e-learning, e-health and research,” expounded Mr Mtambalike.

“Starlink’s internet service will spur innovation and so is competition among the private companies.

“The service will offer significant impact, especially in remote areas where the infrastructure is too poor to accommodate fiber cables.” Those people, he explained, will get the fastest internet because the speed is almost 150mbps, and that is much cheaper compared to other satellite services.

The satellite internet was there before, but was very expensive.

“So what Elon Musk is trying to do is to make it affordable and this commendable indeed,” appreciated Mr Mtambalike.

With the service, both users will share the same infrastructure in space with $99 installation kits which are available to deposit through its website.

On the other hand, Mr Mtambalike said depending on the license they will be given by TCRA, it will set a ground for stiff competition with local services providers.

For users to access Starlink internet service, they need to mount a dish on a clear sky and have the Wi-Fi router, cables and base.

Internet access in many African countries is very slow to the point that even people who can afford it still face some limitations when using it.