Africa's Highest Peak Is Getting High-Speed Internet

It's about safety as well as Instagram, authorities say of Kilimanjaro project
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
Africa's Highest Peak Is Getting High-Speed Internet
   (Getty Images/byrdyak)

Africa's highest peak is getting high-speed internet access. And while authorities in Tanzania hope that being able to livestream ascents of Mount Kilimanjaro or post selfies from its slopes to Instagram will boost tourism, they say it's also about safety. "Previously, it was a bit dangerous for visitors and porters who had to operate without internet," Information Minister Nape Nnauye said at an event launching the service this week, per AFP. Nnauaye spoke at a camp 12,200 feet above sea level and said coverage would be extended to the Uhuru Peak, 19,291 feet above sea level, by the end of the year, reports the Washington Post.

Around 35,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year. Internet service will make it easier for climbers in trouble to get help, though mountaineering organizations say over-reliance on technology, especially navigation apps, creates problems of its own, per the Guardian. The Kilimanjaro service is part of a wider internet rollout, partly supported by China, called the National ICT Broadband Backbone, the Post reports.

"There’s a romantic, emotional argument to be made that something intangible is lost when wi-fi reaches previously off-the-grid spots," writes Lauren Leffer at Gizmodo. "But Kilimanjaro is far from a totally untouched, cut-off wilderness: It’s a massive tourist attraction that draws in lots of relatively inexperienced climbers, and people die on the mountain every year." In a more controversial project, the Tanzanian government has announced plans to build a cable car on the mountain. (Read more Mount Kilimanjaro stories.)

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