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    Monday, October 2, 2023

    Starlink to Expand Africa Services in Partnership with Jumia

    Olufemi Adeyemi 

    Billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite company, Starlink, will partner with e-commerce firm, Jumia Technologies AG, to expand its satellite broadband services in Africa, Bloomberg reports.

    According to Jumia Chief Commercial Officer, Hisham El Gabry, in an interview, the e-commerce firm will sell Starlink’s satellite terminals and other kits in some African nations, starting with Nigeria in coming weeks.

    “We have seen Starlink do these type of deals in Southeast Asia and South America, and now Africa will also have the opportunity to access the fast-speed internet services,” he said.

    “The plan is to start selling through our sites and agents in Nigeria this month, and then Kenya.”

    The partnership with Jumia will help Starlink sell terminals in areas that lack formal addresses and city mapping.

    In January, Nigeria became the first African country to receive Starlink services.

    Starlink is an internet service by Musk’s SpaceX to improve internet coverage in rural and unreached areas globally.

    Starlink satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet.

    Major tech companies have made attempts to deliver high-speed internet in Africa through creative approaches, but these efforts have often proved unsuccessful, leading to a return to traditional methods such as fibre optics and undersea cables.

    Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook tried to build a gigantic drone to provide high-altitude connectivity on the continent that was later grounded. Similarly, Alphabet Inc.’s Google — using a project called Loon — attempted something similar with helium-filled balloons, before scrapping the project two years ago.

    However, Musk’s network of thousands of small satellites that communicate through the user terminals, appear to have a better chance to connect people on the vast continent.

    Still, the cost of a standard Starlink terminal of 435,000 naira ($557) in Nigeria may be a deterrent.

    “We had to establish our own business models and transportation network, even mapping to a certain extent when we started building an African e-commerce business,”said El Gabry. “So we have the needed experience in navigating the retail and merchandise landscape in Africa.”

    Jumia plans to eventually sell Starlink’s products in the 11 African countries that it operates in, El Gabry said.

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