Elon Musk’s satellite internet company, Starlink, has named Jumia Technologies, an e-commerce platform, as its inaugural distributor for satellite terminals and connectivity kits in Africa.
According to Jumia, the agreement will see it commence selling the kits on its sites and through agents, using Nigeria and Kenya as a launch pad before rolling out the distributorship to the rest of the continent.
The products will be in the Nigerian market before the end of this month whereas Kenya will have to wait a little longer.
“For Kenya, it will take some time as there is no supply yet inside the country, so we would not commit on a date for now; we will work together with Starlink on that,” Jumia global head of communications Abdesslam Benzitouni noted.
In Mr Benzitouni’s view, the said partnership will not introduce a new pricing model but that Jumia will sell the hardware kits, which consist of the Starlink dish, a mounting stand, cables and a power source, at the Sh89,000 (approx $599) price indicated on Starlink’s website.
The pact is set to help Starlink sell terminals in areas that lack formal addresses and city mapping, while Jumia will reap from being the first to bag the distributorship deal on the continent.
The Elon Musk-owned internet firm operationalised its services in the Kenyan market in July this year, setting the stage for intensified competition with local players such as Safaricom, Jamii Telecommunications and Zuku.
At the time, the firm which is an outgrowth of Musk’s space technology company SpaceX, appointed local internet firm Karibu Connect as its first authorised reseller in the country.
The Starlink satellite technology supports services that are not possible with traditional terrestrial solutions, allowing unmodified smartphones to connect to satellites in areas with coverage gaps.
Fears about uptake, however, arose after it emerged that subscribers would require Sh100,000(Approx. $ 673) upfront to install in addition to Sh6,500 (approx. $44) monthly.