The Nigerian government has initiated talks with Starlink, the internet company owned by Elon Musk, to explore ways of creating jobs and improving internet access in the country through local production and maintenance of its hardware.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, revealed this on Sunday after meeting with Ryan Goodnight, the Senior Director of Global Licensing and Activation at SpaceX, Starlink’s parent company.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the International Telecommunication Union-World Radio Communication (ITU-WRC) Conference in Dubai.
Tijani said that he discussed with Goodnight how Starlink could establish a program to train and certify local installers and maintenance personnel in Nigeria, as well as how Starlink could work with hardware startups to produce its repeater boxes locally.
He said that these initiatives could create thousands of new jobs in Nigeria and deepen the country’s tech ecosystem.
He also said that Goodnight confirmed that Nigeria is Starlink’s biggest market in Africa, as the demand for its satellite internet service continues to grow among Nigerians, especially those in unserved and underserved areas.
Tijani shared the details of the discussion on his social media handle, saying: “Excellent conversation with Ryan Goodnight, Snr. Director, Global Licensing & Activation of @SpaceX on the sidelines of ITU-WRC 23, who shared that Nigeria is their biggest market in Africa.
“As demand for @Starlink continues to grow in Nigeria, we spoke about the issue of connecting unserved and underserved Nigerians.
“I also mentioned the possibility of creating thousands of new jobs in Nigeria through initiatives like a certified installer/maintenance programme for Starlink and working with hardware startups to produce repeater boxes locally. Our intention is to encourage every tech company to invest and deepen our tech ecosystem.”
Starlink’s Growth in Nigeria Starlink officially entered the Nigerian market in January 2023, but Nigerians had been pre-ordering its hardware since 2022, despite its higher costs than local Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Starlink offers a satellite internet service that is widely available and reliable, which appeals to Nigerians who live in areas with poor internet connectivity.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Starlink has become one of the leading ISPs in Nigeria in terms of customer numbers, surpassing many local ISPs that have been operating for years.
As of June 2023, Starlink Nigeria had a customer base of 6,756.
In a bid to attract more customers, Starlink reduced its hardware costs by 21% in October 2023, bringing it down to N299,500 from the previous N378,000.
However, the monthly subscription fee remained the same at N38,000 per month.