Starlink To Users In Africa: Service Will Be Terminated In Unauthorized Locations

An interesting situation is unfolding in Africa right now. Since launching in late 2020, Starlink’s mission has been to provide high speed, low latency internet to areas where internet connectivity has not been available, is unreliable, or is too expensive. This is especially true for rural and underdeveloped areas of the world.

At this point, Starlink operates a global service. They serve millions of customers around the world, on virtually every continent. Although coverage is technically global, Starlink only sells hardware and services to locations where they have local government authorization. On their website, Starlink allows you to easily check for availability using your address, or by checking the availability map.

There is a loophole to get around local government approval, though. Starlink’s Mobile (aka Roam) service plans are designed for travelers and digital nomads. By subscribing to a Roam plan, users can take their Starlink dish almost anywhere in the world and stay connected. People living in countries where Starlink isn’t officially licensed to operate have been buying kits in neighboring countries (where Starlink is available), and then using the Roam plan get service in the unauthorized country where they actually live.

For example, Starlink is approved and available in Zambia. But Zambia’s neighbor, Zimbabwe, does not have local approval yet. To get around this, people are buying kits in Zambia and then importing them into Zimbabwe. By subscribing to the Regional Roam plan, people living in Zimbabwe have been able to get service, even though Starlink doesn’t officially offer service or hardware in the country. The loophole has opened up a huge black market for Starlink devices, and not just in Africa. Unauthorized resellers are popping up left and right, finding ways to source large numbers of Starlink kits to resell to people living in countries where Starlink is not yet available.

Apparently, all this activity has caught the attention of local governments. Last week, it was reported that Zimbabwe instructed Starlink to shut down all services in the country. Shortly after that, Starlink started sending out emails to customers who were using the Roam service plan in the area. The email states:

“As outlined in our Terms of Service, the availability of our Mobile Service Plans is contingent upon various factors, including regulatory approvals. If you are operating your Starlink Kit in an area other than areas designated as “Available” on the Starlink Availability Map, we would like to remind you that this is in violation of the Starlink Terms and starting April 30th, 2024, you will be unable to connect to the internet except to access your Starlink account where you can make updates to your account.”

Starlink email to Roam customers in Africa

According to the email from Starlink, they will be terminating internet access in unauthorized countries starting April 30th. Users will be able to access their account portal at to manage their subscription, but all other services will stop. The email seems to target only African users at the moment. From what I’ve seen on social media, only users in Africa are receiving the notice, even though people in other continents are using the same Roam loophole to get service in unauthorized locations.

The Techzim news article I linked to earlier estimates there are about 5,000 Starlink users in Zimbabwe alone. I’m sure there are many more in other unauthorized countries around Africa. Reactions on social media are what you would expect, with those affected scrambling to figure out their next move as the April 30th termination date closes in.

There is another development as well. In the warning to Roam users in Africa, Starlink says that Roam users who stay in a country (even a supported country) for more than 2 months will be forced to update their address to that location. If service isn’t available in the location, service will be terminated. This applies to the Regional Roam/Mobile plan. Starlink says that plan is designed for temporary travel, not permanent use in one location outside of your original country. Users can upgrade to Global Roam to avoid the 2 month rule.

I’m sure we will see more battles ahead in regards to Starlink internet service. After all, Starlink provides something revolutionary – global high speed internet access, free of the restrictions and censorship that are common in some parts of the world. Starlink poses a threat to governments who want control and oversight of their citizens’ internet activities. By all accounts, Starlink is doing their best to navigate the challenging regulatory hurdles, but authorization will take time in some countries, and it will be impossible in others.

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14 thoughts on “Starlink To Users In Africa: Service Will Be Terminated In Unauthorized Locations”

  1. Its been 3 days since “D-Day” and starlink users in places like Zimbabwe and South Africa (both of whom have not approved starlink) can still access the internet.

    Some people speculate that Starlink can´t geoblock areas without assistance from gov bodies on the ground. Others say that the ICU doesn´t have any teeth to stop Starlink. My theory is that Starlink doesn´t care about what stubborn African governments think and don´t want to cut off their increasing number of paying clients.

    But what is also weird is that the DRC has been completely cut off.

    Thoughts on this?

    • Maybe issuing the warning to users in countries that want it to be restricted was all Starlink was obligated to do? Not sure, time will tell. From what I’ve been reading, it’s only the Mobile Regional people that have been cut off. The Mobile Global service continues to work in unsupported locations.

      • Hello Noah, interesting. Which unsupported countries are those where the mobile global is working over regional?

        Yeah, my feeling is that Starlink is actually geoblocking in countries, like India, where the potential for a massive client base is too big to not follow government directives or where the USA have a diplomatic spat with. But in places like Namiba, where the people who can afford to buy it have already done so, then it doesn´t make sense to cut off your client base.

        Where I am, I know of several government agencies & political heavyweights who are blatantly using it despite their own decree that its illegal. So I can imagine that they also want to “play to the tune” that they are making an effort to block Starlink but actually want it to run in the background

  2. Nous attendons la restriction a partir de ce soir du 30 Avril voir, j’ai remarqué que je ne peux plus faire un changement de service sur global au Nigeria. Aucune possibilité de se mettre en global. est ce que c’est seulement ici au Nigeria que c’est impossible ou c’est général?

  3. Starlink/SpaceX are potentially/willingly putting US Citizens who are overseas in danger because of what they face serving overseas in Africa. Let them experience being cut off form the world for weeks is nerve racking, especially we are paying within our right to own these dishes and travel with them for out extensive work overseas for the USA. GoogleFi lets use put in a waiver and Starlink should also to stem those misrepresented dishes who are dont even have a US address.

  4. We are stationed in Africa and we had two set up so we can have decent internet far from home. Tesla refused to ship us more and now this… wow thanks Tesla. Real team player taking away internet from literal paying customers.

  5. What right does anyone have to say that an entire country’s people cannot point an antenna at the sky and communicate? Why do people accept and respect these kind of control freaks? They should all be made to do useful work instead.

  6. This is bad news for my business as I use Starlink to program, do updates, remote monitor solar systems in remote areas where there is no communication of any kind. Will “Global Roaming” solve my problem? We live in Namibia and work in Angola also and take it to South Africa when we go to our holiday seaside cottage.

    • It’s all a bit unclear at the moment as far as the 2 month Roam restriction, but if the email they sent customers in Zimbabwe is accurate, any country that doesn’t have authorization from the government will not receive internet access from Starlink.

  7. If they really want to enforce that 2 months rule here in North Amercia there will be an uproar in the Snowbird community like you have never seen before. All the one from Canada and US that stay for 4-5 months a year in Mexico will be offline all of a sudden. This will be very bad publicity for Starlink.

    • That’s a good point. In a lot of cases, 2 months isn’t that long (like for seasonal travel). The 2 month restriction has always been in the terms of service, so it’s unclear if Starlink plans to start enforcing it now due to the situation in Africa, or if they will only enforce it for countries in Africa. I guess time will tell. If you do end up offline because you are in the US for more than 2 months, you can temporarily switch to Global Roam to restore access. Based on the email that Starlink sent, the 2 month restriction appears to only apply to the Regional Roam plan.


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