Sierra Leone is officially the fifth African country to grant Starlink an operating licence.
David Moinina Sengeh, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer, authorised Starlink’s operating licence this week. At the announcement, Sengeh noted:
[Starlink would] reduce the cost of internet services and make them accessible to every Sierra Leonean. While the general service will commence soon, I have been testing it so far with great satisfaction.
Starlink has not announced when the service will go live or confirmed the pricing. The Starlink availability map shows the country’s status as “Service date is unknown at this time.” However, we can assume pricing will be close to the pricing we have seen in Nigeria.
Per African Business, the hope for Sierra Leone is that Starlink will be an initial step towards universal connectivity in the country. Around 21 per cent of the population is connected to broadband services. That leaves about 6.85 million people without a connection, mainly in rural areas.
The other issue in the country is internet speed. The median fixed internet speed is 11.6 Mbps which is considerably slower than the global average. Although Starlink has not confirmed speeds, it should be lightyears above 11.6.
We will wait for the official launch of the service, but with this authorisation, we should see it go live in the next few months.