Underdeveloped and poorly maintained, Madagascar's inadequate infrastructure is a major obstacle to economic progress, restricting the exchange of goods and limiting development opportunities. The problem has been made even worse by an actual deterioration of the infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s. As of 2000, only just over 11 percent of its 49,828 kilometers (30,968 miles) of roads are paved. During the rainy season, many of these are completely impassable, isolating large parts of the country. Rail is also in a perilous state, with a mere 885 kilometers (550 miles) of track, in 2 unconnected systems, and most of it in very poor repair. The introduction of private trucking licenses and the planned sale of the national railroad company should help, but the problem remains a fundamental one.
The poor condition of the land transport system has placed special emphasis on air and sea traffic. Madagascar has 15 ports, of which Tonmasina, Mahajanga, and Antsiranana are the most important. In theory, there are
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|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 ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
211 airfields, but only 30 of these are paved. There is an international airport at Ivato, outside Antananarivo. Deregulation of the air market has seen considerable expansion, with the appearance of competitors pushing down prices and increasing volumes, especially between Europe and Asia. The first half of 2000 saw an 11 percent jump in European passenger numbers over the same period in 1999, and a 69 percent increase in Asian passengers. Deregulation plans include the eventual privatization of Air Madagascar.
Telecommunications in Madagascar are currently inadequate. The landline network has barely been extended since 1960, and the vast majority of telephones are concentrated in the capital. With foreign aid, the country has installed a new digital switching system, however. Privatization of the national telecommunications monopoly , Telma, is underway, but is unlikely to generate the investment capital necessary to expand radically the customer base. The mobile telephone market, however, is highly competitive, with 4 operators active. Thanks to the USAID-funded Leland Initiative, Internet services can now boast 10 Internet service providers (ISPs).
Madagascar has 7 hydro-electric power stations and together these contribute two-thirds of its power output. But electricity makes up only 5 percent of total energy production; 82 percent of primary energy supply comes from bagasse (sugar cane residue), firewood, and charcoal, the use of which carries a high environmental cost. The development of Madagascar's extensive coal reserves has so far been frustrated by the poor road and rail system. Oil exploration is underway, but the country remains import-dependent.