Elon Musk’s satellite internet company Starlink has partnered with Jumia Technologies as one of its first distributors of its terminals and connectivity in Africa. The agreement has it that Jumia will sell the kits on its sites through agents. This will first start in Nigeria then to Kenya before expanding to the rest of the continent in phases.
“For Kenya, it will take some time as there is no supply yet inside the country, so we will not commit to a date for now; we will work together with Starlink on that,” Jumia global head of communications Abdesslam Benzitouni said in an email response to one of the dailies.
This partnership will not introduce a new pricing model. Jumia will sell the hardware kits, that is a Starlink dish, a mounting stand, cables and a power source, all at Ksh89,000. This strategic partnership allows Jumia to leverage its business models and transportation systems in navigating the retail landscape in Africa. Jumia will help Starlink sell terminals in areas that lack formal addresses and city mapping, Kenya’s rural landscape as a key target.
Starlink provides portable terminals that are capable of connecting to low earth orbit satellites, hold the potential to deliver broadband services in a continent that currently has one of the lowest internet penetration. Africa has largely suffered challenges in expanding to remote areas.
Major tech companies have tried to deliver high speed internet in Africa but have always resorted to a return to traditional methods like fiber optics and undersea cables. Meta tried to build a gigantic drone to provide high altitude connectivity that was later grounded. As was Google’s, project loon, which was scrapped off two years ago.
However, Elon’s network of thousands of small satellites that communicate through the user terminals, seem to have a better chance to connect people on the vast continent.