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What just happened? What's the point of ascending the highest mountain in Africa if you can't send out some social media content as you do it? Thankfully, Tanzanian authorities have now installed high-speed internet services on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, allowing climbers to send out tweets, Instagram pictures, and WhatsApp messages while they ignore the beauty of nature surrounding them.
With a peak of over 19,000 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world. It's a popular destination for adventurous types, and will likely attract even more visitors now that it offers internet access.
As per The Guardian, the broadband network was set up at an altitude of 12,000 feet by the state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation.
While we can expect plenty of people to livestream themselves climbing the mountain on Facebook or Instagram, the internet connectivity was put in place primarily for safety reasons. It will also help to guide climbers who may have become lost or are struggling on the slopes. "Previously, it was a bit dangerous for visitors and porters who had to operate without internet," said Nape Nnauye, Tanzania's information minister.
Today Up on Mount Kilimanjaro: I am hoisting high-speed INTERNET COMMUNICATIONS (BROADBAND) on the ROOF OF AFRICA. Tourists can now communicate worldwide from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. WE ARE GOING TO UHURU PEAK 5880 Meters Above Sea Level!#royaltourcompliment #royaltour pic.twitter.com/jXqGoWCBjU— Nape Moses Nnauye (@Nnauye_Nape) August 16, 2022
Kilimanjaro's thousands of yearly visitors will be able to receive a signal up to a certain height, though Nnauye said that Uhuru Peak, the highest point of the mountain, would have connectivity by the end of the year. He also called for the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation to extend operations to other off-grid tourist sites and national parks.
Kilimanjaro National Park, where the mountain is located, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site and a major source of income for Tanzania's tourist industry, which generated about $1.4 billion in revenue last year.
With locations as remote as Mount Everest now able to offer online connectivity, world explorers face a much smaller chance of losing their way or getting trapped without being able to call for help.
The caveat with such connectivity, however, is that it can lull climbers and explorers into a false sense of security. Some mountaineers and walkers have ended up in serious trouble after relying solely on phone navigation apps, which, unlike most traditional methods, can become unusable in certain circumstances.