Niger - Transportation
Landlocked Niger relies heavily on road and air transportation. As of 2002 there were 10,100 km (6,276 mi) of roads, of which 798 km (496 mi) were paved. The principal road runs from west to east, beginning at Ayorou, going through Niamey, Dosso, Maradi, and Zinder, and ending at Nguigmi. A 902-km (560-mi) all-weather stretch between Niamey and Zinder was opened in 1980. Extending from the main route are roads from Niamey to Burkina Faso (not paved), from Zinder to Algeria through Agadez (with tough desert driving on dirt tracks), from Dosso to Benin, and from Birni Nkonni and Maradi to Nigeria. A 602-km (385-mi) highway between Tahoua and the uranium mines at Arlit was completed in 1981. SNTN, a government joint venture with a private French company, is the most important road hauler and has a monopoly over certain routes. In 2000, there were 57,800 passenger cars and 41,000 commercial vehicles.
Niger's most important international transport route is by road to the rail terminus at Parakou, Benin. From there, OCBN, a joint Benin-Niger railway, operates service to the Benin port of Cotonou. The Niger River is navigable for 300 km (186 mi) from Niamey to Gaya on the Benin frontier from mid-December through March.
There were 26 airports and airfields in 2001, nine of which had permanent-surface runways. The international airport is at Niamey. There are domestic airports at Agadez, Maradi, Zinder, Arlit, and Tahoua. Niger is a participant in the transnational Air Afrique, which provides international service, along with several other airlines. In 2001, 46,400 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.