Liberia - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Liberia has a limited infrastructure that was severely damaged by the country's long civil war. Roads in Liberia are in poor condition due to poor maintenance and heavy rains. Only 6 percent of the national road network of 10,600 kilometers (9,942 miles) is paved. There are no passenger rail services, and the iron ore rail transport links are in need of serious repair as large sections of the rail network were dismantled and sold for scrap during the civil war.

The country's 5 ports of Monrovia, Buchanan, Greenville, Harper, and Robertsport handle 200,000 tons per year in general cargo (80 percent of which is iron-ore deposits) and 400,000 tons a year of petroleum products. Ports in the south-east of the country handle timber exports.

Robertsport had an international airport until it was destroyed by fighting in 1990. It now carries some regional commercial flights but will need major repairs to carry international flights. Harbel, 56 kilometers (35 miles) from Monrovia, remains the only international airport.

Liberian state television, ELTV, was off the air for most of the war but has resumed broadcasts as a largely commercial station. There are 2 private TV stations broadcast for a proportion of the day, and there are 6 FM radio stations and 4 shortwave stations. Independent newspapers emerge from time to time, but invariably fail to establish themselves. There were only 6,000 telephone main lines in the country in 1997 and no cellular phones.

In 1999 Liberia produced 432 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, but much of the electricity-generating infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged. Two-thirds of electricity is generated from diesel and one-third from hydro-electric sources. Access to electricity is very restricted, and those who can afford it use private diesel generators. Poor provision of electricity is a major cause of criticism of the new government. All petroleum products are imported, and so far surveys have shown no local oil reserves. 38 percent of diesel consumed in Liberia is used to produce electricity, and most domestic energy needs are provided by charcoal and wood.

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