Fourth African country gets Starlink before South Africa — for R822 per month

SpaceX’s Starlink has officially launched in Kenya, the fourth African country to support the fast, low-latency satellite Internet service.

Prospective subscribers in the East African country will have to pay 89,000 Kenyan Shillings for the Starlink kit, which worked out to about R11,246 at the time of writing.

The monthly service fee for the regular residential service is 6,500 Kenyan Shillings — about R822.

The launch in Kenya comes after Starlink rolled out in Nigeria in January 2023, Rwanda in February 2023, and Mozambique in June 2023. The latter was the first of South Africa’s neighbours to get the service.

According to the Starlink coverage map, all our other neighbours countries — except Lesotho — are slated to get the service before the end of 2023.

First in line appears to be Botswana, which is expected to go live in the third quarter of the year. Eswatini, Namibia, and Zimbabwe currently have estimated times of arrival (ETAs) in the last quarter of 2023.

Screenshot of Starlink coverage map showing service in Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

The ETA for launch in South Africa is still “unknown”. Industry speculation suggests the delay in Starlink’s South African launch is because it can’t meet the Independent Communications Autothrity of South Africa’s (Icasa’s) regulations for telecoms licensees.

Icasa regulation, which is based on the Electronic Communications Act, determines that licensees must be 30% owned by historically-disadvantaged groups to operate in the country.

These can include people who are black, women, youth, or those with disabilities.

Despite not being officially available in South Africa, Starlink already has nearly 2,000 customers in the country who use the service’s roaming feature.

That number only includes those who had their kits imported through Northern Cape-based Internet service provider  IT-Lec.

It is unknown how many more have opted to handle the importing and account management themselves.

SpaceX owner Elon Musk promoted the roaming capability in his retweet of the launch of Starlink in Kenya.

MyBroadband’s tests of the service have shown it performing very well, particularly for an uncapped broadband option that can work across most of South Africa.

In locations where the user has a largely-uninterrupted view of the sky, we have measured download speeds up to 187Mbps and uploads of around 20Mbps.

IT-Lec customer reports indicate the latency of the service has also gradually come down from 300–400ms a few months ago to less than 200ms.

If you have an address in Kenya or one of the other supported African countries, you could ship your Starlink kit there, have it imported to South Africa, and pay for the regional roaming plan.

In Kenya, this option costs 7,900 Kenyan Shillings, or about R1,001. That cost excludes the 2–2.75% foreign currency conversion fee typically charged by South African banks.

Starlink Roam ordering page for Kenyan addresses.

The cheapest country from where you can order Starlink is Rwanda. The kit will set you back 485,000 Rwandan Franc (R7,417) and the monthly fee with roaming costs 58,800 Rwandan Franc (R899).

While it is also possible to have the Starlink kit shipped to a country outside of Africa and then import it to South Africa, you will then have to pay for the global roaming option, which is substantially more expensive.

Going through IT-Lec will cost you R15,000 for the Starlink kit and R1,799 for the monthly fee. This option does not require having a foreign address in a Starlink-supported country.

The table below shows how much a Starlink kit and regional roaming service will cost if registered in one of the four African countries where it is currently available.

It should be noted that Starlink officially requires that you return to your origin country every two months for the roaming to remain active. It is unclear how strictly they will enforce this stipulation.

Starlink direct import costs breakdown
Country of registration and origin Starlink Standard kit Shipping fee to origin address
(may vary based on specific location)
Monthly fee with regional roaming
Kenya KES89,000 (R11,246) KES3,100 (R391) KES7,900 (R1,001)
Mozambique MZN40,492 (R13,708) MZN1,530 (R518) MZN3,645 (R1,020)
Nigeria NGN378,000 (R8,735) NGN16,700 (R386) N49,000 (R1,133)
Rwanda RWF485,000 (R7,417) RWF24,500 (R375) RWF58,800 (R899)

Now read: How to get Starlink in South Africa

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Fourth African country gets Starlink before South Africa — for R822 per month