The Zimbabwean government is exploring various internet service providers beyond SpaceX’s Starlink, including China’s G60 Starlink, for potential operation within the country.
Calls have intensified, particularly in 2023, urging Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to authorize Starlink’s operations due to dissatisfaction with existing providers offering expensive packages and subpar internet speeds.
In response to these requests, the government clarified that Starlink had not formally applied for authorization in Zimbabwe. Information Minister Jenfan Muswere later stated that Starlink had indeed applied, but no further updates were provided. Meanwhile, neighboring countries like Zambia have already granted authorization to Starlink, prompting some Zimbabweans to create accounts in those neighboring nations to access Starlink services.
Amidst the advocacy for Starlink’s approval, George Charamba, the Presidential Spokesperson, emphasized that Starlink is not the sole candidate under consideration. Responding to inquiries about Starlink’s authorization, Charamba mentioned that decisions had been made concerning services like Starlink. In a statement quoted by Pindula News, he added:
“The Chinese are about to, or have already launched a similar service.”
Charamba argued that Zimbabwe’s public policy on data should not be based on the alleged failures of Econet or its competitors, but rather on considerations of “sovereignty, state security, and the breaking of monopolies and oligopolies” in delivering public services. The historical ties between Zimbabwe and China, dating back to the colonial era when China trained Zimbabwe’s freedom fighters, were also referenced.
While emphasizing the importance of affordable data for the economy, Charamba stressed that this does not mean it is directly linked to any particular company, even if they claim to promote liberalization of the data market.
China is developing its satellite mega-constellation named G60 Starlink to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink. G60 Starlink aims to deploy over 12,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, similar to China’s National Network project comprising approximately 13,000 satellites. The project is managed by Shanghai Gesi Aerospace Technology, and the first satellite for G60 Starlink was produced in Shanghai in December 2023. China’s interest in satellite mega-constellations is driven by concerns about potential surveillance from foreign companies and the desire to establish strategic advantages in outer space.
Source – pindula