Ninth African country gets Starlink before South Africa

Starlink has rolled out in yet another African country, Sierra Leone, bringing the total number of countries with access to the satellite service on the continent to nine.

This was confirmed by a tweet posted to Starlink’s official X account on Tuesday evening.

Starlink’s personal broadband service is priced at SLE 1,020 (R841) in Sierra Leone, with standard kits going for  SLE 7,860 (R6,476).

Shipping and handling costs SLE 517 (R427) for personal products.

Sierra Leone also has three Starlink business service plans ranging from 40GB to 2TB of priority data per month.

These amounts refer to the priority data users can use in addition to unlimited standard data.

The entry-level service plan costs SLE 1,461 (R1,205) for 40GB of monthly priority data.

There are also 1 TB and 2 TB options that cost SLE 2,254 (R1,859) and SLE 4,497 (R3,709), respectively.

Starlink will also offer a flat high-performance dish kit in addition to the standard actuated kits for SLE 64,630 (R53,313).

Additional accessories are available for the flat high-performance kit, such as a Starlink Wi-Fi router and a pipe adapter.

  • Starlink Wi-Fi router: SLE 3,040 (R2,509)
  • Pipe adapter: SLE 3,850 (R3,175)

Shipping and handling for business products will cost an additional SLE 1,299 (R1,071).

The hardware can only be delivered to specific areas in Sierra Leone, namely Freetown, Makeni, Bo, and Kenema.

Starlink in South Africa

So far, Sierra Leone, Eswatini, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Benin have all received Starlink access.

South Africans who want to use the technology need to register in other countries and pay additional roaming fees to use it at home.

However, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has warned that this is illegal. It is also technically a violation of Starlink’s terms of service.

Starlink appears to be addressing concerns over its roaming services being used in countries where it has not yet received approval by hiking the prices of its roaming plans.

Its recently-announced price hikes have pushed the roaming services’ cost to well over double similar fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fixed-5G package prices in South Africa, except if users have their registered address in Nigeria.

The new prices are set to kick in from August 2024.

Starlink can be an alternative to fixed-LTE and fixed-5G in locations where cellular networks don’t perform well and no FTTH is available.

Its roaming prices also competed very well with FTTH and fixed-5G for many months since launching in African countries at various periods in 2023.

For example, a Starlink Roaming user in South Africa who had a registered service address in Zambia paid ZMW1,000, about R710 per month.

That price was lower than Afrihost’s 100Mbps FTTH prices on three major fibre operators — Vumatel, Openserve, and Frogfoot.

Following the price hikes, Starlink will no longer be price competitive with fibre or fixed 5G.

Pricing comparison

The table below compares the prices of Starlink’s residential equipment, shipping fees in the eight African countries where it is officially available, and the monthly fee with regional roaming.

It is in ascending order according to the monthly fee with regional roaming.

Starlink direct import costs breakdown
Country of registration and origin Starlink Standard kit (excluding shipping to SA, importing taxes, and VAT) Shipping fee to origin address
(may vary based on specific location)
Monthly fee with regional roaming
Nigeria NGN440,000 (R5,173) NGN16,700 (R424) NGN49,000 (R576)
Sierra Leone SLE7,860 (R6,476) SLE517 (R427)  SLE1,460 (R1,209)
Zambia ZMW8,000 (R5,569) ZMW400 (R278) ZMW2,500 (R1,740)
Rwanda RWF460,000 (R6,504) RWF24,500 (R346) RWF128,000 (R1,809)
Malawi MK600,000 (R6,391) MK26,500 (R282) MK170,000 (R1,810)
Eswatini R6,800 R450 R1,900
Kenya KES45,500 (R6,514) KES3,100 (R443) KES14,400 (R2,062)
Mozambique MZN22,000 (R7,705) MZN1,530 (R536) MZN6,000 (R2,101)
Benin CFA400,000 (R12,122) CFA15,000 (R455) CFA30,000 (R909) (without regional roaming)

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Ninth African country gets Starlink before South Africa