At an event on Tuesday some 12,450 feet (3,795 meters) above sea level, flanked by officials and international tourists, Nnauye proclaimed that high-speed internet provided by state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation was now available to everyone.
plans to to deploy themselves the cover of Uhuru Peak, 19,291 feet (5,880 meters) above sea level, are in place by the end of the year, he added.
“Before, it was a bit dangerous for visitors and porters who had to operate without the internet,” Nnauye said, according to AFP. “All visitors will be connected… (up to) this point on the mountain,” he added, speaking from the mountainside Horombo Huts campsite.
Nnauye also called for state-run internet service provider to expand operations to other off-grid tourist sites and national parks.
The move was hailed by some in Tanzania as a boost for the tourism industry, but others derided the government on social networks for not ensuring better Internet access in remote villages and towns and improving services in shopping malls.
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Tourism is vital to the Tanzanian economy, accounting for around $1.4 billion in revenue in 2021, or almost 6% of GDP. The sector is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, which has halted travel around the world.
Mount Kilimanjaro has about 13 Empire State buildings and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the largest free-standing volcanic mass on Earth and its snow-capped peak attracts visitors from around the world to Tanzania. Thousands of tourists attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year, taking around a week to reach the summit of the majestic mountain.
The Internet rollout is part of a larger government project called the National ICT Broadband Backbone, which is partly supported by China. Beijing has long sought to fund and develop communications and other infrastructure in the East African country, and Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Chen Mingjian tweeted his support on Tuesday for the Kilimanjaro project.
Earlier this month, during a tour of the continent, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled the Biden administration’s strategy for developing partnerships to help African countries become less dependent on government. foreign aid and to tackle challenges such as climate change. The push comes as China pours money into Africa in the form of loans and investments and Russia sends arms and mercenaries.
“The United States will not dictate Africa’s choices, nor should anyone else,” Blinken said in a speech at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. “The right to make these choices belongs to Africans, and Africans alone.
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The Tanzanian government has sparked an outcry in recent years after announcing plans for a cable car system on the south side of Kilimanjaro, to boost tourist numbers and provide access for those who cannot climb it. Expedition groups, porters who help climbers and climate experts said the project would endanger the mountain’s delicate ecosystem and harm the local economy.
Earlier this month, climate experts warned that Africa’s national parks, home to thousands of wildlife, were increasingly at risk from below-average rainfall, prolonged drought and planned large-scale infrastructure that impede conservation efforts.