After the Jameson Raid at the end of 1895, Rhodes stood by his friend and Jameson was put in charge of the extension of the transcontinental telegraph northwards from Salisbury towards the end of 1897. The railway and telegraph, stretching from not only north to south, but from east to west across Africa was Rhodes principal concern from the time of the Raid until the Boer War. However, although the telegraph reached Blantyre in April 1898 and Fort Johnston and Fort Abercorn by the end of 1899, and in addition, the railway reached Salisbury in May, 1899, even by 1900 the railway was not yet across the Victoria Falls and Rhodes never personally crossed the Zambesi river.

The Boer War started at 5 p.m. on 11th October 1899 and Rhodes was in Kimberley during the siege there, while Baden Powell was in Mafeking. Kimberley was relieved on 15th February 1900 and the siege of Ladysmith was raised two weeks later. By 10th October 1900 Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria were in British hands and the Boers signed their surrender at Vereeniging in May 1902.