Elon Musk's Starlinks To Launch In Nigeria This Year

Elon Musk's space exploration company, SpaceX, has revealed that it is working with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to secure all licenses required to launch its satellite Internet service, Starlink, in Nigeria.


The company's Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight, disclosed this in a meeting in Abuja on Friday with Umar Danbatta, the NCC’s Executive Vice-Chairman. The company has been having discussions with the NCC for several months now through virtual channels, and have only resolved to meet in a physical setting in order to discuss the project's prospects in the country.


The NCC states that its decision on SpaceX’s proposal will be made in line with its regulatory duties to ensure healthy competition among telecom companies in Nigeria.



SpaceX, which was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk are the developers of Starlink, a constellation of satellites which serves to enable internet services for people around earth. So far, the company has launched over1,400 Starlink satellites.

According to a report in March, the company already has a set time-frame for the launch-late 2021 for Nigeria. 


The Starlink service has already begun a pre-order programme which takes about six months to fulfil. You can pre-order for $99 (₦37,670). The full Starlink kit — a mounting tripod, WiFi router, and a terminal — costs $499 (₦190,000).



At the time of granting the license, SpaceX had launched 893 satellites and, per the NCC, SpaceX has a Landing Permit for its full constellation of 4,408 satellites. The Landing Permit will be subject to review once all 4,408 satellites have been launched.


As of press time, three Starlink satellites were found— 46135, 46078, and 44282 —up orbiting Nigeria, and a closer look reveals several others also orbit Nigeria and other African countries at different times of the day. Given the NCC’s statement, it’s safe to say that nearly all Starlink satellites can beam their signals to Nigeria.



While Starlink would bring widespread connectivity to unserved and underserved areas, its current cost seems prohibitive. The ₦37,670 is above minimum wage for the average Nigerian user, but it seems cheaper than most dedicated Internet service lines in Nigeria.


The Nigerian government plans to bring in 90% of its population online by 2025, and cost issues aside, Starlink’s technology might be one of the ways to achieve this.



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