SpaceX’s Starlink has encountered a regulatory hurdle in its ambition to expand its satellite internet service to Botswana, potentially pushing back its efforts to launch in the Southern African nation by the fourth quarter of 2024.
According to a report by the Tech Cabal, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority rejected Starlink’s application, citing a lack of complete information provided in their submission made in May 2023. Based on statements made by a government official to the publication, it appears as though the company could rectify these deficiencies by providing the required documents.
There were issues regarding missing requirements with the application, which were identified and pointed out. They are yet to respond to the issues.
To operate in Botswana, potential service providers are required to meet specific financial obligations, including paying a P5,600 (C$550) application fee, an annual license fee of up to P386,000 (C$38,000), and 3% of their annual operating revenue. These regulatory requirements were set up to ensure that companies entering the Botswana market are committed to long-term investment and compliance with local regulations.
Starlink’s expansion efforts in Africa have been met with mixed success. While the company has encountered setbacks in Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe due to various regulatory concerns—ranging from ownership structure requirements to ongoing investigations into other Musk-owned enterprises—it has successfully obtained licenses to operate in Zambia, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
The South African government’s refusal to grant Starlink a license was based on the company’s non-compliance with a law requiring 30% ownership by historically disadvantaged groups, a stipulation meant to ensure broader economic participation.
Despite these setbacks, Starlink’s pursuit of global connectivity remains on track. The company’s mission to provide high-speed internet access to underserved regions, like Africa, is more vital than ever, as nearly 60% of the continent’s population lacks internet access.