Peter Martel / AFP via Getty Images
High-speed internet service has made it to Mount Kilimanjaro, meaning climbers can now use their phones to help with navigation and post on social media as they climb Africa’s highest mountain.
State-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation last week installed a broadband network at an altitude of 12,200 feet and aims to bring connectivity to the summit of the 19,300-foot mountain by the end of the year.
“Today … I am hoisting high-speed Internet communications (broadband) on the roof of Africa,” said Nape Nnuye, Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology. tweeted on Tuesday, “Tourists can now communicate around the world from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.”
The new coverage aims to support tourism as well as safety.
Nnauye said it was “a bit dangerous” at first for visitors and porters to navigate the mountain without internet service. AFP, One estimated 35,000 people Attempts to summit Kilimanjaro every year, although about a third are forced to return due to altitude sickness and other issues.
As an added bonus, climbers can now share selfies from the slopes, and their friends and acquaintances can follow their journey in real time (in case you didn’t think your FOMO was bad enough already).
Kilimanjaro is not the first or the highest mountain to serve adventurers. of Nepal mount everest There has been 4G mobile connectivity since 2013 and fiber-optic broadband since 2017.
Critics say the needs of the local people are being ignored
Internet installations are also proving to be a source of controversy, with critics accusing the Tanzanian government of prioritizing tourists over the needs of local people.
Less than 45% of Tanzania’s territory (accounting for 83% of the population) was covered by any type of cell reception by 2020, according to global development center,
Joseph Knoll, a researcher at the University of Oslo in Norway, told NBC News that telecommunications coverage in Tanzania is almost entirely managed by international private corporations, which purchase coverage licenses from the government.
He said operators have refused to expand 3G and 4G access to rural areas near the base of Kilimanjaro because not enough people have handsets to facilitate internet access – if there is internet coverage they can buy them. may be interested in.
Information Technology Minister Nanouye, share photos on twitter Which he described as “tourists … enjoying the service”.
The emphasis on tourism is in line with its role in the economy of Tanzania. As of 2019, according to world BankTourism was the largest foreign exchange earner, the second largest contributor to GDP and the third largest contributor to employment in the country.
With tourists in mind, the Tanzanian government approved the construction of a cable car on Kilimanjaro – an idea that sparked widespread backlash from environmentalists and climbers; The idea has been slow to progress ever since.
Broadband is part of a larger infrastructure initiative
Tanzanian authorities are working to expand high-speed broadband across the country through an initiative National ICT Broadband BackboneWhich is operated by Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation on behalf of the government.
Its objectives include increasing information and communication technology for the “equitable and sustainable socio-economic and cultural development of Tanzania” as well as providing access to international submarine fiber optic cables via Dar es Salaam to neighboring countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic includes doing. Republic of Congo.
project is also available financial help from China (which invested more than $4 billion in African infrastructure projects in 2020 alone). Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Chen Mingjian celebrates Internet announcement own tweet,
“Hongera Sana!” He wrote, which is Swahili for congratulations. “Hope to one day personally visit the roof of Africa—Mount Kilimanjaro.”
Until that day comes, he – like many others – may just have to settle for live streaming someone else’s climb.