Business and Technology

How President Is Being Misled On Launching StarLink

Renowned journalist Edmund Kudzayi has laid out concerns on why Zimbabwe is lagging in technological advancements as well as how some top executives are lying to him about security concerns on using Starlink.

Many calls have been made on how the government can make the internet easily available and affordable to many by embracing new technologies such as Starlink.

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The major impediment has, according to Kudzayi, security concerns surrounding the control of data and so on. However, he has pointed out that fiber internet is more vulnerable and prone to manipulation by outside sources.

Check out the full article he shared on his X handle;

Starlink: Ignorance, Lies, and Duplicity

Zimbabwe’s refusal to authorise StarLink highlights a paradox in its cybersecurity approach. While expressing concerns over a lack of control, the country’s entire internet infrastructure relies on undersea cables that are well documented as being vulnerable to foreign surveillance. As revelations from whistleblowers like Edward Snowden made clear, cable infrastructure is routinely tapped by intelligence agencies with sophisticated tools and capabilities. By routing all digital traffic through this infrastructure over which Zimbabwe has no oversight or safeguards whatsoever, the country long ago conceded to having no concern about espionage or loss of digital sovereignty. Indeed, it has little choice. These cables can and are intercepted using passive fiber taps or splitters inserted directly into the line. Signals can then be siphoned to monitoring stations where full packet payloads are decrypted and stored long-term. Zimbabwe may in fact be safer with StarLink as satellite transmission protocols would require markedly more advanced capabilities to hijack compared to today’s plug-and-play interception of undersea cables. Without a demonstrable technical case, objections to StarLink ring are disingenuous given existing vulnerabilities. The fact is a group of corrupt people are making money by ripping off poor Zimbabweans with US$200/month internet. It is a cartel that has conspired to give the president misleading technical advice citing nonexistent security concerns. These are lies and I challenge their finest to a debate on the issue.

Security Begins at NetOne

The state of network security at the national telecom operator, NetOne, provides a telling example of just how dishonest these people are. As someone who has worked closely on the NetOne network, I can attest to the numerous shortcomings identified in an independent audit report submitted over 18 months ago. This report detailed alarming security lapses that left the entire network open to exploitation, as well as evidence of rampant fraud perpetrated by top executives. Despite this detailed audit, critical upgrades and policy changes recommended over 18 months ago remain undone. Why if not because those in charge are using these loopholes to steal. This situation, at NetOne, casts serious doubts on Zimbabwe’s technical competency and commitment to addressing vulnerabilities. You may have read of executives who were suspended at NetOne. I am the one who caught them. What thank you do you imagine I got for this act of service? The CEO, working with @chiefkoti, tried to extort me. Despite this report being highly confidential Chief Koti got in touch with me and outrageously claimed I would not receive payment due to my status as an undesirable. The solution, he suggested, was we start a company jointly and he retrieves the payment for a cut. I told him to go to hell. I am now told that my payment was sent to Mnangagwa’s office for authorisation and he has sat on it presumably to punish me for my admittedly loud mouth. This is a lie, Mnangagwa knows nothing about it as he is being lied to in the same manner he is being lied to about StarLink. Given this background, Zimbabwe’s claims of prioritising security appear rather hollow. POTRAZ is compromised by the industry it purports to regulate and willfully allows the economic enslavement of the people of Zimbabwe through extortionate internet fees from which they no doubt get a cut.

A Financial and Political Conspiracy?

My suspicion, albeit without direct evidence, is that there might be a political motive behind this misleading advice. Consider the potential impact if President Mnangagwa were to authorize Starlink, enabling access to the internet at around $50 per month, possibly even less with breaking of bulk perhaps to 6Mbps. Imagine a scenario where people could have unlimited internet for as little as $10 a month. Such a move could significantly boost Mnangagwa’s popularity. Now, this raises an intriguing question: who would benefit from Mnangagwa not gaining this surge in popularity? This is a question I leave open for consideration.

E. Kudzayi 28.02.2024

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