SpaceX must give up 30% equity stake in Starlink to operate in South Africa, says government

SpaceX is rapidly expanding and is now offering its Starlink service in more than 50 countries around the world. However if SpaceX wants to expand Starlink service into CEO Elon Musk’s home country of South Africa, it will need to give up a large stake in the company.

That is according to African National Congress (ANC) Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele, who said in order for Starlink to operate in South Africa, 30% equity ownership needs to be held by persons from previously disadvantaged groups.

“In order for Starlink to operate in South Africa, they require… Individual IECS/IECNS applicants or licensees to have a minimum 30% equity ownership held by persons from historically disadvantaged groups.”

According to Shadow Minister of Communications Dianne Kohler Barnard from the opposition Democratic Alliance, the government is saying with its position that millions of South Africans will continue to lack access to technology, unless it is provided by an ANC member or someone with political connections.

 “It is nonsensical that where such an opportunity could present itself, the ANC would rather stick to its archaic cadre deployment style policies and rather ensure that its politically connected friends are awarded exorbitant tenders rather than actually make a difference in the lives of South Africans. It is simply laughable that an international multibillion dollar company must hand over at least 30% of its equity to the ANC government to operate within South Africa,” Barnard said. (via The South African)

South Africa has a lot to gain from allowing Starlink to operate in the country as it would reduce the digital divide in education in a country where millions of people currently have no way to access the internet, according to Barnard. “If Starlink were available in South Africa, children in even the most rural of areas would have access to information and learning materials, and others would be able to educate themselves beyond the constraints of formal universities or schools which millions simply cannot afford.”

Starlink is currently available in two African countries, Nigeria and Rwanda, which has taken the opposite approach to South Africa and is running a pilot program to provide Starlink to 500 schools across the country. Starlink has already been approved and is expected to launch in as many as 20 more African countries soon.

Starlink provides broadband-like internet speeds in the middle of the Kalahari Desert

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