South Africa - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Compared to the rest of Africa, South Africa has a good infrastructure , including a highly developed network of some 358,596 kilometers (222,831 miles) of roads (only 17 percent of which are paved, however) and 21,431 kilometers (13,317 miles) of rail track. There are a number of international and national airports; a highly developed system of bulk water supply; a power supply parastatal , ESCOM, that supplies

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
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
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
Namibia 19 144 37 N/A 12 N/A 18.6 11.73 6
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.

roughly half of Africa's electricity at rates that are among the cheapest in the world; a telephone utility company, TELKOM, that provides services for about 4 million main telephones and network links for one of the fastest growing cellular telephone industries in the world; and broadcasting services. However, the infrastructure in the areas occupied by the black majority is generally undeveloped or badly maintained. The Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) program provides the private sector with unique opportunities to exploit the potential of under-utilized areas by identifying public-private partnerships in bulk and municipal infrastructure projects.

South Africa's modern and extensive transport system plays a very important role in the national economies of several other African states. A number of countries in Southern Africa use the South African transport infrastructure to trade. Private motorcars are an important mode of personal travel. In 1998, there were some 6.55 million registered motor vehicles, of which more than 3.8 million were motorcars. Minibus-taxis provide a vital service to nearly 50 percent of South Africa's commuters. More than 480 taxi associations are operating throughout the country. SPOORNET, the largest railroad operator in Southern Africa, has 3,500 locomotives and 124,000 wagons. There are 30 international airports, where the necessary facilities and services exist to accommodate international flights. About 15 million passengers use these airports every year. SAA, Com Air, Sun Air, SA Express, and SA Air Link operate scheduled international air services within Africa and to Europe, Latin America, and the Middle and Far East.

Telecommunications, the lifeline of modern business and industry, is one of the fastest growing industries in South Africa. With a growth rate of 45 percent prompted largely by the introduction of cellular telephones and the partial privatization of TELKOM, this sector is a vital component in the strategy to modernize and increase international competitiveness.

South Africa has approximately 5.3 million installed telephones and 4.3 million installed exchange lines. This figure represents 39 percent of the total lines installed in Africa. By November 1998, more than 1.5 million South Africans were using the Internet with service providers increasing their customer base by 10 percent a month. A 1-channeled television service was introduced on 5 January 1976. Currently, the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) offers 3 television channels in 11 languages. It also operates 2 pay-television channels, broadcasting into Africa by satellite. About 14 million adults watch SABC television daily, making South Africa the country with by far the largest television audience on the continent.

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