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    HomeGovernance, Policy & Regulations ForumPolicy & Regulations ForumCameroon Bans Starlink Kit Imports Citing National Security Concerns

    Cameroon Bans Starlink Kit Imports Citing National Security Concerns

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    The Cameroon government has announced a ban on the importation of Starlink kits, the satellite internet equipment provided by SpaceX, citing national security concerns. The decision, communicated through a directive from the Director-General of Customs at the Ministry of Finance, Fongod Edwin Nuvaga, comes amidst growing unease over the unregulated influx of Starlink devices into the country.

    The directive, issued on April 15, 2024, mandates customs officials to seize any Starlink telecommunications equipment found in the possession of individuals entering Cameroonian territory. In the directive, the Director-General highlighted the potential threat posed by these unregulated devices to national security. He underscored that the importation of telecommunication equipment into Cameroon requires approval from the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART), and failure to comply could compromise national security.

    This move signals Cameroon’s firm stance against the activities of Starlink, which has been accused of operating illegally in the country. Earlier discussions between Cameroonian officials and Starlink’s Africa director emphasized the necessity for compliance with local regulations, including obtaining the requisite licenses to operate within Cameroon.

    However, despite ongoing administrative procedures aimed at formalizing Starlink’s presence in the country, reports have surfaced regarding illicit commercial activities and the unauthorized use of Starlink terminals in Cameroon. The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, speaking at the official launch of the Industry Maker Academy (IMA 2024) in Yaoundé on April 4, 2024, expressed concerns over the widespread demand for high-speed internet access and the clandestine importation of Starlink equipment, particularly from neighboring countries like Nigeria.

    Acknowledging the temporary nature of the ban, the Minister instructed local Starlink officials to restrict access to their services for Cameroonian users until the company aligns with the country’s telecommunications regulations.

    In response to the ban, Starlink announced the suspension of its services in Cameroon, effective April 30, 2024. The company cited regulatory approvals as a determining factor in service availability, reminding users that unauthorized use of Starlink kits violates the terms of service.

    The suspension has sparked outrage among users and local telecom experts, who argue that it will adversely impact technological startups reliant on Starlink’s services. Cameroonian entrepreneur Olivier Madiba, known for his work in the gaming industry, described the suspension as a significant setback for tech startups with limited alternatives.

    Starlink’s appeal in Cameroon stems from its promise of reliable high-speed internet connectivity, especially in areas where traditional broadband infrastructure is lacking or prone to disruptions, such as incidents affecting fiber optic networks.

    As the government and Starlink navigate regulatory compliance issues, many Cameroonians find themselves grappling with the loss of a promising alternative for stable internet access, particularly in remote areas.

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