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Starlink launches in Sierra Leone one year after licensing

Starlink

In June 2023, Sierra Leone granted the company an operational licence. At the time, David Moinina Sengeh, the minister of basic and senior secondary education and chief innovation officer of Sierra Leone, announced via his X handle that "Sierra Leone has become the fifth African country to issue a licence to Starlink, the satellite broadband service from SpaceX."

The chief minister of the government and former education minister, Sengeh, disclosed in May 2024 that he had met with senior staff of Starlink and SpaceX in Texas, alongside another minister and a director general of the country's National Communications Authority (NaTCA), who joined remotely. A month after the meeting, the Internet connectivity service went live in the country.

Commenting on the announcement, Sengeh said, "When I left the private sector and tech to join the government, it was for moments like this - today, one year after we engaged Starlink about entering Sierra Leone, we went live."

The satellite Internet device from Elon Musk's company, which is said to offer high Internet connectivity, has come to Sierra Leone, where the Internet penetration for the population was 18% in 2020 but rose to 21% at the start of 2023 and is expected to reach 40.41% in 2024.

Some African countries that had earlier banned Starlink have now granted it operational licences. In April 2024, the National Communications Authority (NCA) approved SpaceX's Starlink to operate in Ghana, four months after declaring it illegal. The application was approved following the policy approval of Ghana's Satellite Licensing Framework by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation.

In May 2024, the Zimbabwean government approved Starlink's licensing by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), and Botswana granted a licence to Starlink nearly four months after its application was rejected for not providing all the required information.

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