Albania - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Albania's infrastructure is far below the standards of other European countries. There are 18,000 kilometers (11,250 miles) of roads, of which 5,400 kilometers (3,355 miles) are paved, and rapid expansion in private car ownership (prohibited in communist times) has placed a great pressure on the network. Since the Kosovo war in neighboring former Yugoslavia, NATO has rebuilt the Albanian roads it used, and western governments have offered funding for several construction projects. One of them runs north-south from the border with Montenegro via Shkodër, Durrës and Vlorë to the Greek frontier (requiring US$94.8 million for its completion). Another runs east-west from Durrës via Elbasan to the Macedonian frontier (costing US$155.9 million). Albania has received US$108 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for completion of the Durrës-Kukës highway and other segments.

The railroad network has 447 kilometers (277.7 miles) of single track, not connected to the railroads of any neighboring country and in poor condition. Thirty-eight kilometers (23.6 miles) of the Durrës-Tiranë line were under renovation in 2000. Two seaports are located at Durrës and Vlorë. Albania's only international airport, Rinas, is located outside Tiranë and has 1 runway and a small passenger terminal.

Albania's power system has 1,670 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, of which 1,446 MW is in hydropower plants (the country's mountainous terrain is favorable for that type of power) and 224 MW in thermal plants. A quarter of the energy is lost due to technical inadequacies, and blackouts are still frequent. Often, electricity reaching consumers is not paid for (70 percent of the clients refused to pay their bills in 1997). A particular concern is the theft of electricity by bypassing meters. The power utility, Korporata Elektroenergjitike, is still in state hands but is scheduled for privatization in 2001. A loan of US$30 million from the World Bank, US$12 million from Exportfinans of Norway, and US$1.2 million from the Chinese government helped Albania repair its electric grid in 2000.

The telephone system is obsolete, with 42,000 main lines in 1995 (11,000 telephones in Tiranë). In 1992, rioting peasants cut the wire to about 1,000 villages and used it to build fences. There were 3,100 mobile phones

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Albania 36 217 109 0.0 1 3.6 N/A 0.24 3
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Yugoslavia 107 297 259 N/A 23 1.9 18.8 7.65 80
Macedonia 21 200 250 N/A 15 1.5 N/A 4.40 30
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

in 1999, with coverage limited to the main cities. In 2000, the privatization of the mobile phone company, Albanian Mobile Communications (AMC), was completed, and the sale of the fixed-line operator, Albtelekom, was set for 2001. A consortium of Vodafone (UK) and Panafon (Greece) won a mobile telephony license in early 2001 for US$38 million.

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