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Ghana is walking back its Starlink restriction

Starlink is in the process of being licensed and other operators are being encouraged to land in the market

Ghana is walking back its Starlink restriction
The move comes amid severe disruptions in most of Africa's broadband spacef

Three months after cracking down on the local use of Elon Musk's satellite internet platform, Ghana now looks to loosen its choke-hold on the service in a move to create alternative connectivity for internet users.

In December 2023, the West African country's telecoms regulatory, the National Communications Authority (NCA) warned the public against using Starlink kits, as they were yet to be type-approved and licensed to operate in the jurisdiction.

Inspired by the sale of kits by middlemen, the NCA pointed out that using Starlink contravenes the provisions of its Electronic Communications Act. Now, however, the country appears willing to authorize the service.

At a parliament briefing this week, Ghana's minister for communications and digitization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, revealed that the satellite internet provider would soon be granted a license to serve the country's populace.

“We have licensed satellite gateway air stations, landing rights, and satellite air station networks. OneWeb has already been licensed. Starlink is in the process of being licensed and other operators are being encouraged to land in Ghana," Ursula is quoted to have said.

“We're currently having discussions about affordable back-haul satellite solutions with satellite service providers under the support of the International Telecom Union (ITU). Conversations have been ongoing for a while, but I believe what has happened recently will energize these discussions for solutions to be reached soon,” she added.

The minister's revelation comes amid severe disruptions plaguing most of Africa's broadband space. The damage of four major undersea internet cables serving the continent has recently caused massive blackouts across West, Central, and Southern Africa.

The situation, one of the worst ever in Africa's submarine cable systems, could take weeks to repair, leaving millions of internet users in the dark seeking more reliable solutions. Starlink, thanks to its low earth orbit (LEO) technology, makes a viable fit.

Only a handful of African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda, have given Starlink approval. Whether Ghana joining the fray is a premonition of a regulatory reconsideration in the continent amid the internet blackouts, only time can tell.

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