Nigeria has become the first African country to receive SpaceX’s satellite internet service, Starlink, which was officially launched on Monday. The development was announced by SpaceX on its Twitter page and was celebrated by Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, in a social media post.
“We have made it again,” Pantami tweeted. “@SpaceX thank you for hosting me in your Headquarters, USA in December 2022 to complete the logistics for the deployment.” The Minister’s visit to SpaceX’s headquarters was part of the preparations for the launch of Starlink in Nigeria.
SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, had announced the company’s plans to expand Starlink into Africa last year, and in May 2022, he confirmed that the service had been approved to provide broadband internet in Nigeria and Mozambique. Starlink is now available in dozens of countries and has more than one million users, but Musk admitted in October 2022 that the service is currently losing money.
“Starlink is suffering from a lack of funds,” Musk said in response to a Twitter user who referred to a CNN report about SpaceX requesting funding from the Pentagon for Starlink in Ukraine. However, Musk later clarified that SpaceX had withdrawn the request for funding.
SpaceX has provided thousands of Starlink dishes to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022, but only 10,630 out of 25,300 terminals in the country are paying for the service, according to Musk. Despite the financial challenges, Starlink’s expansion into Africa is a significant milestone for the company and a major step towards bridging the digital divide in the region.