Malawi looks to satellite connectivity to drive down data prices
The Communications Regulation Authority of Malawi (MACRA) has granted its first high-speed low latency broadband satellite internet service licences to StarLink Lilongwe Limited, a company owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
MACRA Director General Daud Suleman said the licences have been issued following StarLink’s successful licence application and subsequent negotiations which began in February this year.
Suleman said, “StarLink has been issued with the following licences: Network facilities, Network Services and Application Service which will be effective on the day when they will be published in the government gazette.”
The government is hoping that the new entrant will help the country tackle internet issues, specifically the high cost of data.
Frustrated users have initiated online campaigns to lobby for a reduction in the price of data. In April 2021, the government directed MACRA to engage MNOs to reduce their prices.
While there has been some reduction, consumers still demand further concessions on pricing.
The Minister of Information and Digitalisation Gospel Kazako said the government will do whatever it takes to bring down data prices.
Kazako said, “New internet players in the sector must know this as the government aims at ensuring that data services are affordable to all Malawians.”
Malawi becomes the third country in Southern Africa after Mozambique and Zambia to grant regulatory approval this year for StarLink to ensure high-speed internet connectivity.
In September, the Zambian government announced that StarLink would launch operations in the country within six months-mainly to extend internet connectivity to underserved rural areas.