Ethiopia - Infrastructure, power, and communications

According to the U.S. Department of State's Country Commercial Guide 2000, Ethiopia's surface and transport infrastructure is exceedingly poor and underdeveloped. Indeed, the country has the lowest road density in the world, and only 13.3 percent of all roads are paved (1999 est.). There are few interconnecting links between nearby regions and large parts of the country are isolated and dependent upon pack animals for transportation. The main highway route is from Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti, which Ethiopia uses extensively since it is a landlocked country without ports and harbors of its own. The only train network consists of the 681-kilometer (423-mile) long segment of the century old Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad.

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
Ethiopia 1 195 5 N/A 0 0.0 N/A 0.01 8
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
Eritrea N/A 91 14 N/A 0 0.4 N/A 0.01 1
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 ( ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Since May 1998, Ethiopia has expended considerable effort to repair and maintain the railroad lines. Moreover, with the help of various donors, including the World Bank, the European Union (EU), and the African Development Bank (ADB), the government has implemented a US$3.9 billion Road Sector Development Plan designed to expand the road network by 80 percent for 2007. In 1998, the World Bank approved a US$309 million loan to be used for the project, a welcome contribution even though the loan will contribute significantly to Ethiopia's overall debt.

As for air transport, there are a total of 85 airports in Ethiopia, 11 of which have paved runways. All passenger and cargo flights are provided by Ethiopian airlines. The airlines' international services link the country with 43 cities on 3 continents, while domestic services link 38 airfields and 21 landing strips with Addis Ababa.

The government-owned Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) provides the population with telephone services. However, with only 3.1 telephone mainlines per 1,000 people, very few Ethiopians actually have telephone access (1999 est.). The situation compares unfavorably with most other sub-Saharan African nations, to say nothing of the wealthier industrialized nations of the world. In the United States, for example, there are 640 phone lines per 1,000 people (1996 est.).

Almost 90 percent of Ethiopia's electricity is derived from hydropower, which is exclusively provided by the parastatal Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation. In 1999, the country's total electric capacity was 400 megawatts. Over the next several years, the government plans on tripling this capacity to reach 1,200 megawatts. Although doing so would satisfy current electrical needs, Ethiopia has an untapped natural potential to generate over 30,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power. Ethiopia neither exports nor imports electricity, though it does heavily import oil.

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