Tanzania: There’s now Wi-Fi on Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbers who reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro will now be able to share their achievements via free Wi-Fi. The initiative aims to attract more overseas visitors to Tanzania to boost the nation’s tourism industry.
Tourism is vital to Tanzania’s economy, accounting for about $1.4 billion in revenue in 2021 versus $ 1 billion in 2020 when it was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector’s contribution to GDP fell from 107% in 2019 to 5.3% in 2020, according to data from TanzaniaInvest.
Nape Moses Nnauye, Tanzania’s information and communication minister, announced the news at a press conference last week, saying that the state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corp. installed the fibre-optic broadband network as part of the government’s broader push to improve internet connectivity via its National ICT Broadband Backbone initiative.
According to him, high-speed internet access should make climbing the mountain safer, as travellers can now more easily get help and access navigation tools.
“Previously, it was a bit dangerous for visitors and porters who had to operate without internet,” Nnauye said, according to AFP. “All visitors will get connected … (up to) this point of the mountain,” he added, speaking from the Horombo Huts campsite on the mountainside.
Standing 19,300 feet above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain and is attempted by more than 30,000 tourists annually, according to local tourist services. The new broadband network will enable climbers to access reliable Wi-Fi internet up to an altitude of 12,205 feet (3,720 meters), with plans to extend the coverage to the Uhuru Peak, 19,291 feet (5,880 meters) above sea level, by the end of the year.
Kilimanjaro is not the first mountain to offer broadband services. In 2013, Mount Everest in the Himalayas, bordering Nepal and China, has provided 4G mobile connectivity, and since 2017, it has been providing fibre-optic broadband. In 2020, Chinese telecom-maker Huawei also installed its own fibre-optics cables on Mount Everest to make a 5G internet network possible for tourists.