Starlink launches in Sierra Leone

Starlink launches in Sierra Leone

Jun 12, 2024 - 11:12
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Starlink launches in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has become the fifth African country to grant a license to Starlink, the satellite broadband service launched by California-based SpaceX, the spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk.

The country now joins Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Mauritius as African nations connected to Starlink. According to the map displayed on Starlink’s website, an additional 19 African countries are scheduled for launch in 2023 and 2024.

David Moinina Sengeh, the minister of basic and senior secondary education and chief innovation officer of Sierra Leone, announced yesterday that his country has authorised Starlink to operate.

He stated, “This is a significant step forward in achieving the goal of universal connectivity across the country.”

At the beginning of 2023, Sierra Leone had an internet penetration rate of only 21.2%, leaving approximately 6.85 million people without internet access. Additionally, the country’s median fixed internet connection speed stands at 11.60 megabytes per second (Mbps), considerably lower than the global average of 58 Mbps.

Moinina Sengeh expressed optimism that Starlink would “reduce the cost of internet services and make them accessible to every Sierra Leonean.” He added, “While the general service will commence soon, I have been testing it so far with great satisfaction.”

Starlink Makes Its Debut in Africa

2023 marks the year when Musk’s Starlink makes its debut on the African continent. Last January, Nigeria became the first African country to experience Musk’s satellite-based internet service. Since then, it has become available in Rwanda, Mauritius, and Mozambique.

Compared to traditional internet satellites, which are positioned approximately 35,000 km from Earth, Starlink’s Low-Earth Orbit satellites orbit at a much closer distance of about 550 kilometers from the planet’s surface. This proximity enables them to provide coverage to remote parts of the continent at no extra cost compared to land-based telecom towers and subsea fiber cables.

But this advanced technology comes at a price. In Nigeria, for instance, the Starlink kit and installation cost approximately $600 upfront, with a monthly subscription fee of about $43. It is worth noting that the minimum wage in Nigeria is $65 per month, while in Sierra Leone, it stands at $40.65.

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