As many as 50,000 tourists flock to Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro each year. Now, the hoards of hikers will be able to post photos online in real time thanks to the high-speed internet that has just been introduced to Africa’s tallest mountain.
The country’s state-owned internet provider, Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation, finished installing the network this week, according to Gizmodo.
“Previously, it was a bit dangerous for visitors and porters who had to operate without internet,” Nape Nnauye, Tanzania’s information minister, said at the launch of the service, according to The Guardian.
The internet connection currently extends 12,450 feet above sea level, but Nnauye said it is expected to reach Kilimanjaro’s 19,341-foot summit by the end of the year.
Authorities say the mountain attracts a plethora of inexperienced backpackers, so having the ability to contact emergency services at a moment’s notice offers clear advantages and may help save lives. Experts warn, however, that climbers should not depend on cell phones alone to navigate their climbs.
Equipping Kilimanjaro with high-speed internet may also help bolster the country’s tourism industry, which took a major hit when the pandemic began in March 2020. It had previously supported more than 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
In the past, Tanzanian officials had considered building a cable car to transport people up the mountain with the hopes of attracting more tourists, but the idea received a great deal of pushback from climbers, environmentalists, and businesses that sponsor expeditions.