Telecoms and Internet service industry regulator, has declared the operations of Elon Musk’s Starlink and the sale of their equipment/devices in Ghana as illegal.
In a statement dated December 7, 2023, the NCA said its attention has been drawn to the alleged sale of Starlink equipment and its operations in Ghana, even though Starlink has no authorization from the regulator.
“We wish to inform the general public that, the NCA has neither licensed the operations of Starlink in Ghana nor type-approved any of their equipment,” the statement said.
It stated that any entity which provides electronic communication services in Ghana without a Licence or Authorisation from the NCA is in direct violation of Section 3(1) of the Electronic Communications Act 2008, Act 775 which states that, ‘Except as otherwise provided under this Act a person shall not operate a public electronic communications service or network or provide a voice telephony service without a licence granted by the Authority’.
The NCA therefore cautioned the general public to desist from patronising any equipment or service purported to be from Starlink, adding they persons engaging in the sale or operations of the service are also directed to cease and desist immediately.
“The NCA wishes to assure the general public that as an entity established by law, the Authority will continue to ensure fair participation and competition in the market to safeguard its licensees and consumers,” the statement said.
Starlink had long announced on its website that it will start operations in Ghana this quarter, to which NCA earlier said that Starlink had and still has no license in Ghana.
Techfocus24 is aware that NCA has been engaging Starlink on licensing issues but nothing concrete has been finalized yet. But Starlink is known to ignore regulators and just start providing services to citizens with its SpaceX satellite, which some industry watchers say makes it difficult to really regulate Starlink.
Ghana is not the first country where Starlink has been declared illegal. They suffered similar fate in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Senegal and recently in South Africa among other Africans countries. But they are fully operational in Nigeria, where the government is pushing them to provide jobs for locals.
Some experts have suggested that Nigeria played lose and allowed Starlink to get of the hook for violating regulations, but Ghana will not play that lose.
Meanwhile, telcos and internet service providers in Ghana and other African countries are said to be very concerned about the coming of Starlink and what impact their operations can have on competition.
But eventually, satellite-based internet services will become the main stay of the space and Ghana’s Communications and Digitalization Minister has already hinted of plans to put an expert group together to draw a national framework for how satellite internet operators can be licensed just like telcos are licensed.