Djibouti - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Transport in Djibouti is geared towards international trade, with local transport being only of secondary concern. The port facilities are central to the economy. Djibouti's use as a naval base by French, British, Italian, and U.S. fleets that operate in the Gulf may be lucrative but is not a basis for growth. Improved port efficiency was needed for the 1998 increase in Ethiopian trade, with traffic up 333 percent to 1.2 million metric tons. Only 10 percent of the 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles) of roads in Djibouti are paved, and the railway, jointly owned with Ethiopia, is in desperate need of an overhaul.

The capital of Djibouti houses the nation's only international airport, which is serviced by Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, and Yemenia. Several small companies fly to Somalia. Djibouti Air was relaunched in 1997 with private investment and flies to Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The international telephone exchange has a radio link with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, 2 earth satellite stations, and a submarine fiber optic link to Sri Lanka and Europe. Domestic and international telephone exchanges are being restructured to attract foreign investment. There were 8,000 telephone main lines in use in 1997. The country's international telecommunications company offers a range of Internet services. In 1992 Japan provided a TV studio for Djibouti. The only newspaper printed in Djibouti is state-owned.

Energy resources are very limited. The population has no access to trees for wood fuel and must import charcoal and all petroleum products. The Boualos diesel electricity generator is in urgent need of repair, and power cuts are frequent. In 1999 the country produced a total of just 180 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, 100 percent of which was generated from fossil fuels.

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