Sierra Leone takes hundredth spot on Starlink's global radar

As the tenth African country to join then network, Sierra Leone is poised to leapfrog innovation

Sierra Leone takes hundredth spot on Starlink's global radar
Its the tenth African country to get the service

Elon Musk’s satellite internet service, Starlink, has gone live in Sierra Leone. The launch, which comes a year after the Francophone West African country’s communications regulator granted the service an operating license, takes the company’s reach to 100 markets globally. 

The market is also the tenth African nation to have access to the low earth orbit connectivity technology. Its launch comes a fortnight after both the service was licensed in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Some of its West African neighbors, including Nigeria and Ghana, also have approved access to the platform. 

Sierra Leone's Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer, David Moinina Sengeh, while revealing the licensing back in June 2023, was enthusiastic about the country being the fifth nation on the continent to green-light Starlink and spotlit its enthusiasm to leapfrog innovation. 

For 2024, internet penetration in Sierra Leone is forecast by Statista at 40.41%. The count of households with access is put at 0.38 million. Its fixed internet connection speed currently stands at 11.60 MB/s, which is quite lower than the global average of 58 MB/s. 

Unlike conventional internet satellite positioned about 35,00 kilometers from the earth, Starlink orbits at a considerably closer distance of around 55 kilometers from the surface With this proximity, it can provide coverage to the remotest parts of any market it is operable, at no extra costs compared to terrestrial towers and undersea cables. 

What’s more, when it comes to technological advancements in Africa, Sierra Leone is among the outliers. Data from GSMA says that in 2022, only 21.5% of the population in the low-income country were using mobile internet. A lack of literacy and digital skills as well as the unaffordability of internet-enabled phones, were major factors. 

However internet penetration reached an all-time high the same year when 2.67 million of the total population became internet users, showing a 12.5% increase from the previous year, thanks to more Sierra Leoneans flocking online in the wake of social media explosion. 

Starlink’s incorporation marks a new era for comprehensive internet and education access. This is seen as a critical means of ensuring inclusive development and knowledge sharing.

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