- Starlink has partnered with African e-commerce company Jumia Technologies to expand satellite internet access across Africa.
- Jumia will distribute and sell Starlink antenna kits and terminals, starting with an initial launch in Nigeria.
- The collaboration provides Starlink with an established on-the-ground presence and logistics network in Africa.
- The partnership aims to boost internet penetration in remote and underserved populations across Africa.
SpaceX’s satellite internet venture Starlink has partnered with leading African e-commerce company Jumia to improve broadband connectivity across the continent. Jumia will offer Starlink antenna kits and terminals in select African markets starting with Nigeria.
Jumia Provides Strategic Distribution Network in Africa
Jumia brings an established on-the-ground presence and logistics network across Africa that Starlink can leverage for sales and distribution. After the initial Nigeria launch in coming weeks, Kenya is expected to follow.
The collaboration positions Jumia as a key player in bridging the digital divide through Starlink’s satellite-based internet access. Jumia COO Hisham El Gabry cited the company’s experience building African e-commerce operations as invaluable in navigating the launch.
Overcoming Past Failures in Connectivity Efforts
Major tech giants have struggled in efforts to provide affordable high-speed African internet. Facebook halted its massive internet drone initiative. Google ended its Project Loon balloon connectivity venture.
But Starlink’s approach of using lower-orbit satellites shows promise where past attempts fell short. Its more localized system aims to reach remote regions unserved by traditional communications infrastructure.
Addressing the Affordability Challenge
One potential hurdle is the high hardware cost with Starlink antenna kits priced around Ksh 92,000 (shipping included) in Kenya currently. This poses an adoption barrier for many consumers and underserved communities.
Jumia articulated a long-term plan to distribute Starlink products across its 11 core African markets. The partnership can help scale to meet local demand and potentially lower costs.
“We had to establish our own business models and transportation network, even mapping to a certain extent when we started building an African e-commerce business. So we have the needed experience in navigating the retail and merchandise landscape in Africa, said El Gabry, Jumia’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Boosting Internet Penetration Across Africa
Starlink’s arrival comes as Africa continues struggling with a significant internet penetration gap. Nigeria has only 47% penetration currently, leaving over half its 200 million population unconnected.
With Jumia’s on-the-ground expertise, Starlink can expand coverage to underserved populations. Their collaboration may also incentivize local ISPs to reach remote areas now commercially viable.
Jumia Uniquely Poised to Unlock Starlink’s Potential
While SpaceX oversees the complex satellite infrastructure, Jumia provides the brick-and-mortar connection to African consumers needed for adoption. Their strategic alliance aims to transcend past failed internet initiatives.
Stable connectivity promises to uplift healthcare, education, agriculture, and commerce across Africa’s digitally excluded communities. By joining forces, Starlink and Jumia are primed to unleash real change and opportunity through the power of the internet.