Gabon - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Despite substantial investment in the Trans-Gabonais railway and foreign backing for road development in the 1990s, the surface transportation system is still inadequate and inconsistent with Gabon's high per capita income level. Until 1979, there were no railways except for the cableway link between the Congo border and the Moanda Manganese Mine. The main rivers are navigable for only the last 80 to 160 kilometers (50 to 100 miles) of their course to the Atlantic Ocean. The road network is poorly developed and much of it is unusable during the rainy seasons. In 1996 there were an estimated 7,670 kilometers (4,766 miles) of roads, of which only some 634 kilometers (394 miles) were paved. The government's aim is to surface some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of the road network in the next few years, with an eventual target of 3,580 kilometers (2,225 miles).

By 1989 the railway line linking Libreville and Franceville, which is located in the southeast area of the country, was fully operational. The main port for petroleum exports is Port Gentil, which also handles logs (floated down the Ogooue River). Owendo, the principal mineral port, also handles timber. A third deepwater port operates at Mayumba, in the south.

Air transport plays an important role in the economy, particularly because of the dense forest that covers much of the country and makes other modes of transport impracticable. There are international airports at Libreville and Port-Gentil and scheduled internal services link these to a number of domestic airfields. Gabon has a total of 61 airports within its borders, 11 of which have paved runways. The national carrier, Air Gabon, is 80 percent state owned.

In 1997 there were 37,300 telephone lines, 4,000 cellular phone subscribers, 6,000 PCs, and 400 fax machines. The domestic telephone system combines the use of cable, microwave radio relay, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations. For international links it operates 3 Intelsat satellite earth stations. There were also 4 television broadcast stations in 1997. In 1998 there were approximately 400 Internet users and 1 Internet service provider.

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
Gabon 29 183 55 N/A 8 0.4 8.6 0.02 3
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
Cameroon 7 163 32 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 20
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.

There was a range of radio broadcast stations, with 6 AM, 7 FM, and 6 shortwave stations in 1998.

The installed capacity for electricity production was 1.02 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 1995. Power generation is both hydroelectric and thermal (gas fired), with 72 percent of total capacity hydroelectric. There are proven crude petroleum reserves estimated in 1997 at 1.34 billion barrels. Production in 1996 was 135 million barrels. Natural gas production in 1995 was 102 million cubic meters.

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