#MondayBlues: Zim Gvt Must Not Prioritise Chinese G60 Over StarLink

There has been a lot of talk for government to jump on to Chinese-based satellite service providers G60, ahead of Starlink or completely block it as they make way for the eastern-based company.

Shanghai Gesi Aerospace Technology, a Chinese state-owned company established in 2022 is the one to run the G60 satellite factory, a product that is anticipated to be competing against the US-based Starlink.

These players have as of July, had a paltry  nearly 1,300 satellites into orbit agaunst privately owned starlink with 5 200, with massive monthly launches, they have a target of 42 000 by the year end.

While the Chinese players maybe aspiring global competitors , if at all, it is not the role of any government or regulator to then be caught up in the Western Eastern wars at the expense of the real beneficiaries, who are the consumers.

At the best case scenario, the best way forward would be to make sure that all players get market access and they compete on service delivery with the customer enjoying the right of choice based on service delivery.

Ignoring or blocking Starlink over emerging small players is not only regrettable but uniformed, as it does not serve Zimbabweans at large, let alone solve the biggest problem of connectivity for masses, at affordable costs for national growth.

Zimbabweans are battling internet connectivity, seeking the service at the best cost and once there is national broadband breakthrough, the nation experiences a serious Gross Domestic product Jump.

While the government is looking into a huge opportunity to collect revenue and tax, the appetite must never be huge that the opportunity to serve technology will always be disruptive and regulators must be flexible so that they are not excluded in the digital revolution.

The Chinese- based Shanghai Gesi Aerospace Technology does not have national coverage for their 1 billion people let alone the African Market and hence will provide pathetic speeds!

To start with, submitting national data traffic to a country notorious of curtailing freedom of expression and access to information would be tantamount to violation of Human rights and freedom of expression.
This must be a worrying issue in the interest of national security.
Starlink is a private owned company, which at some instances, has switched off its internet blocking drones that were meant to attack Russia by Ukraine forces. This is something that traditionally will be an anti US policy but the power of privatisation saw business interests winning this war over political interests.

Unfortunately, China does not allow much of freedom for its citizens; gagging access to even social media sites like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter from and occasionally spies on its citizens daily!

The G60 Starlink project started in 2016, with the Shanghai government announcing its cluster plans in 2021. As of July, the local government said they would send nearly 1,300 satellites into orbit during the initial phase of the project. This figure is far off to date!
This is a drop in Ocean against what Starlink has done in terms of geo space coverage and connectivity and to think Zimbabwe government must trust and sign up a struggling and poorly connected aerospace player because its Chinese is not only ignorant but stupid!

SpaceX started launching Starlink satellites in 2019. As of early January 2024, it consists of over 5,289 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) that communicate with designated ground transceivers.
Nearly 12,000 satellites are planned to be deployed, with a possible later extension to 42,000.
What national security concern is that connected with disconnecting communities and citizens?

Democratic governments must not plan to disconnect their own people! Those chosen by their people connect with them!

Eight African countries are already on Starlink, none of them have complained or cited any national security issues, Zimbabwe can never be an exception and there is much to gain.

Our fear of the unknown must never allow us to misss the next biggest opportunity, tech developments ususally move way fster than regulations, limitations and even business models, fighting this will be at our own peril.

Ross Moyo

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