We are not blocking Starlink: Ministry Clarifies to Parliament

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Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Dr Beaullar Chirume has declined claims that government is blocking Starlink from operating in Zimbabwe but insists that use of the technology is currently illegal.

For illegally using Starlink in Zimbabwe, a Chinese national was fined US$700, last February.

Starlink is an internet service provider that makes use of low bit satellite receivers in space to provide fast and avoidable internet. The service provider seeks to avail internet in hard-to-reach areas at fast speeds.

Appearing before the parliamentary committee of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Chirume said every player in the sector had to go through the application process.

“As government, we have set up Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to look at the regulations of the entire telecoms sector, so we would not even go against ourselves.

“They (POTRAZ) are better equipped, they have the technical expertise to be looking at the regulations.

“From the ministry’s perspective Starlink has not applied and we cannot stop the advancement of any new technology,” she said.

Chirume added that once Starlink submits an application for an operating license in Zimbabwe, the authorities would work on models that will analyze what Starlink seeks to do and its impact on local industry.

POTRAZ weighs in

Weighing in on the same issue, Potraz Director General Gift Machengete acknowledged that Starlink had approached the regulator and insisted that there was no need to block anyone.

“I don’t think there is any intention to block anyone, because there is no way we can block technology, our licensing framework is a converged licensing framework, so you can bring whatever technology you want.

” Starlink approached us, we gave them what needs to be done for getting licensed and they have gone quiet.

“And are still asking for information which we are giving them, so as far as we are concerned, they are not licensed and would be illegal,” said Machengete.

Starlink is available in African countries such as Nigeria, Botswana and Zambia and not yet in use in countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.