Cameroon seizes Starlink kits ahead of service disconnection on April 30

Techpoint Africa | Cameroon is reportedly seizing Starlink kits at its borders because the Internet service provider is not yet licenced in the country.

This comes ahead of Starlink’s scheduled discontinuation of service in regions where it is not yet licenced to operate, including Cameroon, on April 30.

Meanwhile, Cameroonian authorities have expressed concerns that Starlink’s entry into the market will threaten the country’s national telecommunications and Internet service provider, Camtel.

According to Cameroon Customs Director General Fongod Edwin Nuvaga, in a notice to customs personnel acknowledging cases of imported Starlink, “This type of technology, which allows for an unrestricted, ultra-fast internet connection, is not subject to the Telecommunications Regulatory Board’s oversight and thus poses a threat to national security.”

The official also stated that the seizure of Starlink equipment would continue until the telecoms regulator licences and regulates the device in the country.

Aside from the previously mentioned unfair competition, Cameroonian authorities have expressed concerns about Starlink, including fraudulent commercial activities, exploitation of Starlink terminals, and personal data risks.

Furthermore, Starlink was reportedly asked to discontinue Cameroonians who have access until it is officially licenced to operate to “protect” the market.

In an email to its roaming customers about discontinuing services by the end of the month, Starlink stated that “it intended its regional and global roaming plans for temporary use by customers who are travelling and in transit, not for permanent use in unauthorised areas.”

The provider also stated that using a Starlink kit in an unauthorised area violates the company’s Terms & Conditions.

After the April 2024 deadline, subscribers who have been away from authorised locations for more than two months must either relocate or update their account country to avoid being disconnected.

This comes as many African countries prohibit the satellite Internet service providers, citing licencing and regulatory compliance. In Zimbabwe, the telecom regulator ordered Starlink in April 2024 to disconnect subscribers who used its services. Meanwhile, in January 2024, Zimbabwean authorities announced they would arrest Starlink distributors and users found in the country.

While Cameroon pushes the stop button on Starlink, Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA) recently approved the satellite Internet service’s operation in the country, allowing the company to provide satellite broadband services. Ghana becomes the eighth African country to approve Starlink, months after declaring the Internet provider illegal.

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