WATCH: ‘Starlink would complement, not disrupt local players’ Dandemutande Investments Private Limited’s chief operating officer, Mr Ignatius Mpando,

Nqobile Bhebhe, [email protected]

THE imminent entry of global satellite Internet service provider, Starlink, owned by American businessman, Mr Elon Musk, is a major step that would complement existing technology infrastructure by local players as opposed to disrupting them, a local industry expert has said.

President Mnangagwa recently approved Starlink’s licensing by the Postal Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) noting that this move is expected to bring about the deployment of high-speed, cost-effective internet services.

He highlighted that Starlink’s investment in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications infrastructure reflects the 2nd Republic’s message, “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

Starlink has generated discussions in the country’s ICT sector, with queries arising around its operational methods, given its ongoing global consumer growth and popularity.

Utilising a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), Starlink plans to offer Internet coverage across the globe, including areas where laying cable or building cell towers is impractical or cost-prohibitive.

During an interactive breakfast session in Bulawayo yesterday, Dandemutande Investments Private Limited’s chief operating officer, Mr Ignatius Mpando, said as local industry players they perceive Starlink’s entrance as a positive addition to the country’s ICT industry.

He said concerns from participants regarding the potential impact of Starlink on existing ICT companies that have made substantial investments in infrastructure should be adequately understood.

“Starlink is coming in to complement what we are already offering (as ICT players). But as a business, there are certain capabilities that one would not be able to tap into from a Starlink solution,” said Mr Mpando.

“We are now having someone who is coming in to complement our efforts. As a business, we have rolled out fibre infrastructure and we are going to invest more. Fibre infrastructure has to deliver the speed of connectivity and be in a position to lower costs.”

Mr Mpando added that costs associated with the maintenance of the current fibre infrastructure have to be taken into consideration.

“However, as a country, there are some issues that we need to take note of, for instance, fibre breaks cost money and we need to power that infrastructure to deliver services,” he said.

“That comes at a cost, and so as a service provider, we are faced with costs that come in hard currency. Our costs become difficult to control. On a positive note, they (Starlink) are coming on to complement what we are already doing. I don’t see any negatives.”

Utande Chief Commercial officer Lorraine Chakuchichi Nyahwa.

President Mnangagwa has long emphasised the critical need for Africa to rapidly modernize and industrialize through embracing science, technology, and innovation, along with vital partnerships to propel the continent forward and enhance ICT capabilities.

Government is dedicated to facilitating Zimbabwe’s transition to a digital economy by 2030.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by Starlink Services, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American aerospace company, SpaceX, providing coverage to over 70 countries.

It also aims to provide global mobile broadband.

SpaceX started launching Starlink satellites in 2019. As of early March this year, it consisted of over 6 000 mass-produced small satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) that communicate with designated ground transceivers.

Nearly 12,000 satellites are planned to be deployed, with a possible later extension to 34,400.

SpaceX announced reaching more than one million subscribers in December 2022, 1.5 million subscribers in May 2023 and two million subscribers in September 2023.

You Might Also Like