HARARE – Zanu PF benefactor Wicknell Chivayo and his IMC Communications have landed the lucrative Starlink deal as Zimbabwe finally approved the licensing of Elon Musk’s innovation, allowing the satellite unit of SpaceX to operate in the country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Saturday he has “approved the licensing of Starlink by POTRAZ, the country’s telecommunications regulator, to provide advanced internet and related digital processing services in Zimbabwe”.

In a post on his X account, Mnangagwa said the licensing of Starlink is upon realisation by his government that the emerging importance of technology in day to day activities requires the state to lead from the front in providing an environment where investment in technology is promoted.

“In this vein, I’m pleased to announce that I have approved the licensing of Starlink by POTRAZ to provide advanced internet and related digital processing services in Zimbabwe through its sole and exclusive local partner, IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd,” he said.

Starlink is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite operator wholly owned by global conglomerate Space X led by American multi-billionaire Elon Musk.

Mnangagwa said the entry by Starlink into Zimbabwe’s digital telecommunications space is expected to result in the deployment of high speed, low cost, LEO internet infrastructure throughout Zimbabwe and particularly in all the rural areas.

“This will be in fulfilment of my administration’s undertaking to leave no one and no place behind,” he said.

Mnangagwa said the investment confidence expressed by Starlink in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications infrastructure dovetails with his government’s mantra, “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

“I encourage more investment by foreign conglomerates in Zimbabwe as we are an investment destination of choice,” he said.

“I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, to congratulate IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd and Starlink on this commendable milestone aimed at revolutionising the digital and communications technology landscape in Zimbabwe.”

Before the licensing, a handful of local business operators and individuals, among them, a son to a cabinet minister, Neville Mutsvangwa were arrested for illegally using Starlink in Zimbabwe.

Mutsvangwa is still in custody facing the charges.

Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi are some of the African countries which have licensed Starlink to operate within their borders.

While the licensing of Starlink dovetails with the national mood, the awarding of the tender to a businessman known for close links to Zanu PF could dampen the spirits of some locals who feel the Zimbabwean leader was using state resources to advance partisan interests.