Mount Kilimanjaro Gets Broadband

John Lister's picture

Mount Kilimanjaro now has high-speed internet almost two-thirds of the way up the mountain. The Tanzanian government plans to have Internet connectivity at the summit by the end of the year.

The mobile broadband is available through the government-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation. The government minister involved marked the connection by posting online from an event held 3,720 meters up the 5,895 meter mountain. He wrote: "Today Up on Mount Kilimanjaro: I am hoisting high-speed INTERNET COMMUNICATIONS (BROADBAND) on the ROOF OF AFRICA."

He also called for similar expansion in tourist sites across the country that are in remote location.

Safety Benefits

While much media coverage has mocked the idea of tourists and climbers being too impatient to wait to post selfies of their ascent, the government stressed the safety benefits of better connectivity.

In theory it could make it easier to communicate with and locate climbers who get into difficulty. However, the Guardian notes some mountaineering experts warn that explorers can get over-reliant on such technology, particularly when they have navigation software on their devices. They can give a false sense of security as the level of detail and accuracy that's fine for everyday isn't necessarily solid enough for a hazardous location. (Source: theguardian.com)

The addition of broadband to Africa's largest mountain has also proven controversial in Tanzania where critics say priorities are wrong given many people in the country have poor access to affordable internet connectivity.

China Concerns

However, the government says it's simply a high-profile part of an ongoing project to boost broadband provision across the country through the “National ICT Broadband Backbone.” That project is itself controversial as its partly financed by China. (Source: washingtonpost.com)

Behind the scenes, that's said to concern Western nations who fear China may not see it as simply a business opportunity but may be seeking to boost both its political influence and its control of key infrastructure in foreign countries.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it sensible to bring internet connections to mountains? Do you agree with the argument that it could boost safety for tourists? Should we be concerned about Chinese involvement in overseas broadband networks?

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