The government of Tanzania has set up a high-speed internet service on Mount Kilimanjaro. The government says the service will promote safety for climbers. But it will also allow people to post selfies as they work their way up Africa’s tallest mountain.
At 19,300 feet (5,895 meters), Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It’s also the world’s tallest mountain that’s not part of a mountain range. Created by volcanoes, it simply rises out of a large, open flat area in Tanzania and Kenya.
The mountain is part of Kilimanjaro National Park in the northeast of Tanzania. Around 50,000 people visit the park each year. Most of these people – about 35,000 every year – are trying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
But climbing such a tall, glacier-covered mountain isn’t easy. Roughly one-third of the people who try to climb it are forced to give up. Nape Nnauye, Tanzania’s information minister, said that in the past, “It was a bit dangerous for visitors…without internet.”
The new internet service should make it easier for climbers to reach the top of the mountain. They’ll be able to use the internet to check maps and find their way. They’ll also be able to use the internet to call for help if they need it.
Currently, the new service reaches more than halfway up the mountain. The government says that by the end of the year, climbers will be able to get internet even at the very top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The government says safety is the main reason for setting up the internet service on the mountain. But Tanzania depends heavily on tourists. In 2019, tourists were responsible for about 17% of all the money produced in Tanzania.
Some people in Tanzania are upset that the government is focusing on internet for tourists instead of the people who live in the country. One study in 2020 showed that only about 83% of the people who live in Tanzania can get cell phone service where they live.
Last year, the government approved a $72 million plan to build a cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro. The idea was to allow tourists who weren’t climbers to enjoy the mountain. But the project made climbers and guides angry.
It also bothered people who were worried about how the project might affect the environment on the mountain. Scientists have already warned that the glaciers on top of Mount Kilimanjaro may melt in the next 10 years or so. So far, the cable car project doesn’t seem to be making much progress.
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In 1987, Mount Kilimanjaro was named by the United Nations as a World Heritage site. That means that it’s a place which is important to protect.
Did You Know…?
Mount Everest, the worlds tallest mountain, has had cell service since 2013, and fast internet service since 2017.
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