Elon Musk has shifted his attention towards Kenya for the establishment of Starlink after what critics claim was due to the competition he got from Nigeria. While the brand isn’t leaving Nigeria, it appears the billionaire’s telecom brand is shifting its focus more to Kenya following what is perceived as stiff competition from industry players within the Nigerian ecosystem.
Recall that it widely publicized that Elon Musk’s Starlink would have to battle with some existing telecommunication titans in the Nigerian market if he plans to succeed.
Despite getting an operating license from the Nigerian Communication Commission in May 2022, Starlink has yet to be able to make any substantial footprint in the Nigerian telecommunication space, as it appears the company underestimated the competition. So, Elon Musk has turned his attention to Kenya.
The news that the billionaire is eyeing an entry into the East African country makes it the second telecom company that has expressed interest to enter into the Kenyan market this year.
However, critics say it also shows that Elon Musk and the Starlink team may have perceived the Kenyan market to be easier for penetrability than what they are experiencing in Nigeria.
In Kenya, Safaricom controls a dominant market share, and Elon Musk sees an opportunity to compete with a single player rather than multiple big players in the Nigerian industry. Starlink has released an official statement that they would establish services in the country by the second quarter of this year.
To remain afloat, Safaricom would have to make some critical decisions to enable it to battle the competition that is coming. The company has enjoyed an uncontested market in East Africa, but its dominance will come under threat as both Canadian-based telecom Iristel and Elon Musk’s Starlink will be commencing operations in Kenya this year.
In its official announcement, Starlink said that it is currently “pending service coverage or regulatory approval.” The company also added that everything was already in place, and Kenyans would be able to place orders for the service once the necessary regulatory approvals are finalized.
“Order now to reserve your Starlink. Starlink is targeting service in your area starting in Q2 2023. Availability is subject to regulatory approval. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” the company stated.
To gain a substantial market share in the African market, it looks like Starlink would withdraw its target from the Nigerian market due to huge competition and focus on smaller regions like Kisumu, Mombasa, and Nakuru, which the company says their services could be readily available by the middle of the year.
Although the news that Canada-based Telecommunications Company, Iristel and Elon Musk’s Starlink are coming into Kenya is not suitable for Safaricom, it is good for Kenya. It shows that the country is on the right track in its technological revolution, which has increased the demand for tech infrastructure and services.
There are still those who say that both Iristel and Starlink would not be able to make substantial footprints in Kenya and phase out Safaricom easily because the company has been able to build customer trust over the years.
But with the technological advancements in Kenya – which has been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Africa, it is only a matter of time before the tenacity of Safaricom is tested – and it appears the time is now.