Chad's infrastructure is exceptionally poor even by standards in other developing countries. Decades of civil war have taken their toll, and improvements have proceeded slowly. The road system is unpaved and vulnerable to erosion. Mismanagement of government-run power and communications monopolies slowed the development of infrastructure in these essential sectors. Chad's people have limited access to power, electricity, telecommunications, water, and other modern services fundamental in developed societies. Nevertheless, some improvements are expected as the government liberalizes energy and telecommunications sectors and gradually improves the transport infrastructure.
Transport costs are high, and most of Chad's roads are unpaved dirt or laterite (red soil found in humid tropical and subtropical areas) that can become impassable during the rainy season and make some regions inaccessible. According to the U.S. State Department's 2001 Country Commercial Guide for Chad, less than 10 percent of 6,200 kilometers (3,853 miles) of roads in Chad were paved in 2000. Road conditions can vary widely according to the seasons.
Electricity and water services are confined to the capital, N'Djamena, and a few regional capitals. Even in these limited areas, electricity is extremely expensive and services are often cut off. Urban electricity and water supplies have long been provided by a state company, Société Tchadien d'Eau et d'Electricité (STEE), that has suffered from chronic corruption and mismanagement. As this company is privatized, there is hope that utility services will improve and prices will be lowered. In rural areas, most people rely on traditional wells with little or no protection against surface water contamination. Because of the absence of latrines and other human waste disposal systems in rural areas, there is a high incidence of water-borne diseases.
Chad ranks with those countries in the world that have the lowest density of telephones, televisions, and Internet users. According to the World Development Indicators for 2000, Chad has 1 television set per 1,000 people. Advertisements from the telephone company, Soteltchad, at the end of 2000 estimated that Chad had 10,260 telephones and 1,020 Internet subscribers. The country has 1 television station that is run by the state and a governmentally-run radio station which broadcasts from several regional capitals. Both the television and radio stations provide information from the government's perspective. Although there are several newspapers circulating in the city of N'Djamena that offer differing political views, the news does not reach Chad's mostly rural and illiterate population.