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Starlink ordered to shut down in Zimbabwe amid regulatory crackdown

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Elon Musk’s satellite internet company Starlink, has experience a major setback in Zimbabwe as the government has ordered the service to be disabled in the country. This comes as Starlink faces increasing regulatory challenges across some African countries.

According to emails sent to Zimbabwean subscribers, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has directed Starlink to shut down its service, stating that it is operating in an “unauthorized territory.”

“You are currently using Starlink in an unauthorised territory. As a result, Starlink has been directed by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to disable your service,” the email reads.

Starlink said it will work with POTRAZ to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals to resume operations in Zimbabwe as soon as possible, and encouraged users to contact the regulator in support of the service.

The shutdown in Zimbabwe is the latest in a series of regulatory obstacles Starlink has encountered in expanding its footprint in Africa. The company has faced similar challenges in South Africa, where the telecoms regulator ordered the sole importer of Starlink kits to cease operations. Botswana has also outright prohibited the importation, use and sale of Starlink services.

Read also: Ride-hailing services in Edo State to face new regulations

While Starlink has been quickly adopted in some African countries like Nigeria, the lack of regulatory approvals has hampered its growth on the continent. Ghanaian authorities have indicated they would grant Starlink a license once it fulfills all requirements, but overall the regulatory environment has proven difficult to navigate.

The Zimbabwean government’s crackdown appears to be driven by security concerns, with POTRAZ previously warning of legal action against anyone using the unauthorized service. With remote area coverage a key selling point, Starlink had become popular among Zimbabweans dissatisfied with legacy internet options.

As Starlink continues to face headwinds in expanding across Africa, the shutdown in Zimbabwe is a significant setback that underscores the regulatory challenges the company must overcome to realize its ambitious global connectivity goals.

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When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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