Tunisia - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Since 1995 the Tunisian government has invested heavily in the country's infrastructure . There are 20,000 kilometers (12,428 miles) of good-quality roads linking all parts of the country; 18,226 kilometers (11,326 miles) of these roads are paved. Having such roads is a considerable feat given that Tunisia is a large country with differing and often inhospitable terrain. There is only 1 modern highway in the country, but a second (from Tunis to Bizerte) is under construction and is expected to be completed by 2002. After 1996, there was a rapid growth in the number of licensed vehicles, which has led to heavy congestion and pollution. The government has made plans to modernize the railway system that is operated by a company called SNCFT. The railways have traditionally transported phosphates and fertilizers, although the number of passengers has been increasing by about 5 percent a year. Still, the SNCFT ran at a loss throughout 2000. There are a total of 2,168 kilometers (1,347 miles) of rail lines in the country.

There are 6 international airports in Tunisia: Tunis-Carthage, Monastir-Skanes, Jerba-Zarzis, Tozeur-Nefta, Tabarka, and Gafsa. The national airline, Tunisair, flies to many European and Middle Eastern countries with the exception of Israel. In turn, most European and Middle Eastern carriers fly into Tunis. The Tunis-Carthage airport has a capacity of 4.5 million passengers a year. There are 8 commercial seaports and 22 smaller ports within Tunisia, known for their inefficient customs officers and bad links to railways and roads.

Tunisians receive their electricity from the state-owned company, Société Tunisienne de l'Electricité et du Gaz (STEG), which can produce 1,974 megawatts of power at full capacity. More than 90 percent of the country's electricity is generated by this company. There are 29 radio stations and 19 television stations. Telecommunications services in Tunisia are poor, rates are high, and Internet use is not common. According the EIU Country Profile 2000, the country had only 30,000 Internet users at the beginning of 1999 and only 2 government-controlled Internet service providers.

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