Ghana's telecoms regulator warns public against using Elon Musk's yet-to-be-authorised Starlink service

By bne IntelliNews December 8, 2023

Ghana’s telecommunication regulator has warned of alleged sales of equipment and services of Starlink, which has yet to be granted a licence to operate in the West African country.

Starlink is a satellite internet service provided by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which provides high-speed internet typically to areas with sub-standard service, including remote areas without telecommunications infrastructure.

The National Communications Authority (NCA) warned in a December 7 statement that any entity selling Starlink kits in Ghana is in direct violation of the Electronic Communications Act 2008.

“Further to the above, the general public is cautioned to desist from patronising any equipment or service purported to be from Starlink. Persons engaging in the sale or operations of the service are also directed to cease and desist immediately.”

According to the state-owned Daily Graphic, Starlink is not looking to begin operations in Ghana until the third quarter of 2024, subject to regulatory approval.

The NCA’s announcement likely stems from recent social media reports about local vendors importing the equipment, and selling it on at exorbitant prices.

According to the Benjamin Dada tech news site, in an X post about Starlink prices two days ago, CediRates, a platform that keeps track of currency exchange rates and the costs of common services in Ghana, wrote that middlemen charge residential customers GHS7,800 ($650) and businesses GHS30,000 ($2,500).

“Per CediRates, a monthly subscription for the service costs GHS1,100-1,500 cedis ($91-$124) for residential subscribers, and GHS 3,000-18,000 ($250-$1500) for commercial customers,” the site writes.

“Meanwhile, per Starlink’s official website, the no-cap service, subject to regulatory approval, can only be pre-ordered from Ghana at $9. Typically, a standard plan costs $689, including a monthly subscription of $90.”

In January 2023, Starlink went live in Nigeria, after being approved by the country’s telecoms regulator, becoming the first country in Africa to receive the service legally.

“Down south, third parties sourced kits from neighbouring Mozambique where it is legal, and resold them to South African customers. However, the practice has since been illegalised by authorities, and the equipment is reportedly being type-approved given an official launch,” the Benjamin Dada site writes.

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