Senegal - Infrastructure, power, and communications

For a developing nation, Senegal has a well organized infrastructure compared to most other African countries. The World Bank estimated that in 1995 there were 507 kilometers (315 miles) of paved road per million people. The CIA World Fact Book 2001 notes that there are 14,576 kilometers (9,058 miles) of highway, 4,271 kilometers (2,653 miles) of which are paved. Although the railway system is somewhat antiquated, it carries more than 3 million tons of cargo per year. The railway network, which extends across 906 kilometers (563 miles), links the major cities to Dakar and provides services between Senegal and Mali. The port in Dakar is one of the few African ports with a floating dry dock, a container terminal, and container service. Despite the wide range of services, port charges are high and service is inefficient. There are also ports and harbors in Kaolack, Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Saint-Louis, and Ziguinchor.

According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide , the airport at Dakar is one of the principal international airports in West Africa, handling a variety of aircraft on its 2 runways. The airport serves more than 24 international airlines, handling 1.5 million passengers per year and moving more than 20,000 metric tons of international airfreight. There are direct flights to Europe and North America, along with frequent flights to several African countries. Secondary airports are located in the regions of Saint-Louis, Tambacounda, and Ziguinchor. In total, there were 20 airports in 1999.

The parastatal Senelec supplies electricity in Senegal, though the electric power market is open to foreign investment. France has invested heavily in this sector of the economy. Senegal produces 1.2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, all of which is created domestically by fossil fuel. Therefore, the country has no need to import electricity from abroad. To meet the rapidly growing demand for increased capacity, Senelec is actively seeking upgrades to its existing power-generating capabilities.

The telecommunications sector is dominated by Sonatel, another parastatal. In 1996 there were only 11 phone lines per 1000 people, compared to 640 phone lines per 1000 people in the United States. Access to the Internet is severely restricted. In 1996 there were 0.31 Internet hosts per 1000 people, but in the United States there were 442.11 Internet hosts per 1000 people. Sonatel hopes to modernize the telecommunications industry by digitizing its current network and installing a fiber optic network and cellular telephone system. As in the case of the electricity market, France has also invested heavily in telecommunications. The competitive advantage of French firms in this sector relates, in part, to concessional funding (funds are granted in exchange for specific contracts) given by the French government to the Senegalese government for the modernization of the telecommunications network.

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