Burkina Faso - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Despite recent investment, the transport system is poorly developed. Given that the country is landlocked, the nearest ports are found in Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, and Togo. The government is undertaking a US$360 million World Bank program to create a coherent policy and a regulatory framework for infrastructure , rehabilitate the road and rail network, and restructure the state transport system.

There are 13,200 kilometers (8,202 miles) of classified roads in Burkina Faso, of which 1,800 kilometers (1,119 miles) are paved. The former state bus company has been privatized and now runs 5 main routes throughout the country. The 1,260-kilometer (783-mile) Abidjan-Niger railway is the main transport axis, although the line has not recently operated efficiently, and rail traffic is in decline. Burkina Faso's 622 kilometers (387 miles) of line are scheduled for restructuring. In 1995 a French dominated company took control of the railroad, and the line is anticipated to be rehabilitated with a US$31 million World Bank loan.

The country has 2 international airports, and several regional carriers operate international services. The former parastatal , Air Burkina, has been bought by the Aga Khan's business group (the Aga Khan is the leader of the Ismailis, a Muslim sect originating in the Indian sub-continent), and is undergoing overhaul and expansion.

The main government newspaper is Sidwaya, but there are several private papers. Since legislation allowing opposition parties, several short-lived political newspapers have come and gone.

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
Burkina Faso 1 33 9 N/A 0 N/A 0.7 0.19 4
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Nigeria 24 223 66 N/A 0 N/A 5.7 0.00 100
Ghana 14 238 99 N/A 1 N/A 1.6 0.06 20
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999and 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.

Radio broadcasts in French and local dialects are a major form of government communication. There are 17 FM stations, 2 AM stations, and 1 SW station that broadcast to 370,000 radio receivers. In 1997, 103,000 televisions received programs from Burkina Faso's 1 TV station.

The telephone network is very small, with only 42,000 subscribers. The state telecommunications company, Onatel, is expected to be privatized and the domestic market will be liberalized, although Onatel will have a monopoly on international calls.

Burkina Faso is predominantly dependent on thermally generated energy. The National Grid Group, a leading international electricity and telecommunications organization, only covers 4 percent of the population. Sonabel, the national electric company, produced 305 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in 1997, of which two-thirds was thermally produced and one-third was hydro-electrically produced. Construction has begun on a new dam, but the cost of electricity production is still significantly higher in Burkina Faso than in neighboring countries. Although the government is not planning Sonabel's privatization, the market will be liberalized and companies will be able to compete for production and distribution with Sonabel.

Consumption of petrol products is low, and wood fuel provides over 90 percent of domestic energy. The government is trying to promote butane in order to slow deforestation.

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