mount kilimanjaro
Evening view of Mount Kilimanjaro summit; (photo/Juergen Wallstabe for Shutterstock)

Tanzania Announces Internet Will Soon Arrive on ‘Roof of Africa’

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, will soon have full high-speed connection for cellphones, bringing improved safety — and the ability to post live on social media.

Climbers on Mount Kilimanjaro can now expect high-speed internet, thanks to an upgrade from the Tanzanian government.

Last week, the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation installed a broadband network at 12,200 feet on the mountain. Officials aim to bring connectivity to the 19,300-foot summit by the end of the year, Tanzania’s Minister of Information said on Twitter.

The new service will work anywhere on the Marangu, a.k.a. the Coca-Cola route, ExplorersWeb reported.

As the oldest and easiest route to the Kilimanjaro summit, the Marangu also sees substantial traffic and offers huts along the way. Many trekkers don’t need to camp and often get their gear carried down the mountain for them, Angela Benavides wrote for ExplorersWeb.

At the low skill threshold required for entry, she reasoned that having internet connectivity on Kilimanjaro could improve safety.

“It typically attracts the most inexperienced, sometimes unfit, and often poorly acclimatized people,” ExplorersWeb wrote. “This results in a significant number of would-be summiters falling sick and requiring evacuation. For this, cell coverage will help.”

internet on kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa; (photo/Ricardas Anusauskas for Shutterstock)

A Boon for Safety — And Tourism

Many visitors scale Africa’s highest peak without internet service every year. Minister Nnauye called that situation “a bit dangerous,” AFP reported.

Of the estimated 35,000 people who try to summit the mountain each year, about a third turn back because of altitude sickness and other issues.

While internet on Kilimanjaro may help safety, it’s also about tourism, allowing climbers to share their journey in real-time. Last year, the Tanzanian government announced plans for building a cable car on the mountain. Unsurprisingly, that caused a backlash from climbers and environmentalists.

At the same time, Kilimanjaro remains an important source of tourism revenue in Tanzania and nearby Kenya. In terms of development, the writing is on the wall.

It’s also not the first mountain to get high-speed internet. It’s the fourth of the Seven Summits with a “more or less constant cell connection,” according to ExplorersWeb.

Climbers on Mt. Everest have long enjoyed an internet connection, and Aconcagua had an antenna installed above 16,000 feet in 2020. Mount Elbrus in Russia, with a ski resort on its lower slopes, also has internet for its visitors.

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Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.