Algeria - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Algeria enjoys an extensive though aging infrastructure that has been largely neglected since independence. The country is serviced by a network of over 104,000 kilometers (64,626 miles) of primary and secondary roads, 71,656 kilometers (44,527 miles) of which are paved. According to the EIU Country Profile , Algeria's poor road system claims the lives of 10 people a day, while the cost of accidents to the state is estimated at AD10 billion annually. The road system is badly in need of repairs, and repair and renovation costs are estimated at AD227 billion. Roads, especially in urban areas, are highly congested. Plans are underway to privatize the road system in 2001 to cover the renovation costs, but the process is likely to be slow, despite the availability of foreign financing for the projects. Similarly, the nations' railway system, which consists of 4,820 kilometers (2,995 miles) of track, is troubled. The state's railway company, Societe national de transport ferroviare (SNTF) is also slated for privatization, but the process has been stifled by the lack of progress in the restructuring of the industry to focus on business activities. Rail lines have more than once sustained damage as a result of sabotage attacks by Islamic militants. The SNTF has been heavily indebted for years, and the railway system is mostly used to transport cargo.

Algeria has 4 major airports, located in Algiers, Oran, Annaba, and Constantine, all of which are fairly modern. Several airlines stopped service to Algeria in December 1994, following the hijacking of an Air France airplane at Houari Boumedienne airport. Many European airlines, with the exception of Air France, have resumed flights since 1999. The national carrier, Air Algerie, serves 37 destinations in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It carries 3 million passengers per year. Plans are currently underway in 2001 to upgrade the country's airports and expand their capacities and privatize Air Algerie. Algeria has 9 major ports, at Algiers, Oran, Bejaia, Arzew, and Annaba. The government plans to expand the handling capacity at the ports of Algiers and Oran in 2001.

Electrical power is supplied to Algerians by the state-owned power company, Sonelgaz. Over 90 percent of Algeria's 21.38 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of power is generated from gas, while the remaining 7 percent is generated by hydroelectric power stations in Kabylie. Over 94 percent of homes are connected, and the government is planning in 2001 to extend the power network to rural areas at the rate of 150,000 new homes annually. Like the rest of state-owned companies, Sonelgaz is slated for restructuring.

Telecommunications services in Algeria are generally aging, but are better in the north than they are in the south. Telephone service is provided by the Ministry of Posts and Telecomunications. The country had 1.17 million telephone lines in use in 1995, and some 33,500 mobile cellular phones in 1999. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in 2001 is upgrading the country's phone lines using fiber optic technology and digital systems. In 1999, the country had 1 Internet service provider.

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