(Ecofin Agency) - Starlink is pursuing its African expansion strategy after launching in Nigeria and Rwanda. The company eyes Somalia, where nearly 90 percent of the population has no access to the Internet.
Elon Musk’s satellite internet provider, Starlink, plans to launch its commercial services in Somalia, state news agency SONNA reveals. According to the news agency, Starlink has already begun discussions with the National Communications Authority (NCA) to secure a license.
“We are happy to explain how our system works, what we can bring to Somalia if we get permission from the agency, and we will also cooperate with telecommunication companies and internet providers that operate in Somalia,” SONNA reports quoting a representative of SpaceX, the company that operates Starlink’s satellite constellations.
Mustafa Yasin Sheikh, NCA's director general, welcomed Starlink's interest in Somalia. However, he stressed that the company must first meet the necessary licensing requirements and go through the Authority's licensing process. He also added that the Authority will evaluate Starlink's offering and its service plan.
The Somalian expansion process is part of Starlink’s African expansion strategy that began in 2021. SpaceX wants to bring broadband connectivity everywhere on the planet, including remote and landlocked areas that are hardly accessible for mobile operators' terrestrial networks. In Africa, the company has launched commercial services in Nigeria and Rwanda. According to the launch schedule, it will enter 21 other countries by the end of 2023. However, at press time, its schedule still marks the launch date of commercial services in Somalia as “unknown.”
The launch of Starlink's services is expected to accelerate the use of Internet and mobile services in Somalia. According to DataReportal, the country had 1.76 million Internet users in January 2023, representing a 9.8% Internet penetration rate. Somali citizens who use mobile services numbered 7.99 million, representing a 44.7% mobile penetration rate.
Isaac K. Kassouwi