Starlink launches in Nigeria

SpaceX subsidiary Starlink has made its satellite-based internet service available in Nigeria, becoming the first African country to use the technology and 46th globally. The launch follows an agreement signed with the Nigerian government, which was acknowledged by the Minister of Information and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim. The availability of Starlink internet broadens competition in the Nigerian market, which has been dominated by telecom-based service providers.

Starlink boasts internet speeds of 50-200 Mbps, dwarfing Nigeria’s 21.54 download and 10.10 upload Mbps, which places the country 93rd in the December 2022 Speedtest Global Index. This speed advantage is expected to help Starlink dominate the West African market, but its biggest challenge remains affordability.

Initially, Starlink charged $600 for hardware and $43 per month for subscription, but with the launch, the company made the charges available in naira and reduced them to N274,098 for hardware and N19,260 per month for subscription. Although the cost is still considered unaffordable for the average Nigerian, the move is expected to attract big corporations and drive millions of users to Starlink.

The Minister of Communications announced that with the operation of Starlink, Nigeria has achieved 100% broadband coverage, exceeding its target of 90% by 2025 under the National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025). However, the affordability of the satellite internet service remains a concern, and Elon Musk has previously expressed that Starlink is losing money from providing free or subsidized internet service worldwide. Analysts predict that Nigerian internet providers can mitigate the impact of Starlink by expanding broadband penetration in remote parts of the country, where their services will be preferred for their cheaper costs.

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