Honduras - Infrastructure, power, and communications

In 1998 mudslides and flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch devastated the Honduran infrastructure . Nearly half of the country's road network was damaged by the storm. Over 160 bridges were destroyed. Approximately 50,000 telephone lines went down. Water and sewage pipes were damaged, as were seaports, airports, and schools throughout the country.

Honduras has 9,074 miles of primary, secondary, and municipal roads. About 18 percent of them are paved. The country has 2 main highways. The north-south highway

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
Honduras 55 386 90 N/A 5 N/A 7.6 0.19 20
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Mexico 97 325 261 15.7 35 3.0 47.0 23.02 1,822
Nicaragua 30 285 190 40.2 4 N/A 7.8 2.21 20
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.

connects the capital, Tegucigalpa, with San Pedro Sula. The Pan-American highway runs parallel to the Pacific coast and connects Honduras to Nicaragua and El Salvador. While road construction has remained stagnant over the past 5 years, the number of automobiles has substantially increased. There were 273,927 registered vehicles in Honduras in 1995. By 1999, that number had risen to 417,431, increasing traffic and congestion, especially in urban areas. There are also about 600 miles of rail lines to accommodate overland traffic.

The main Honduran port is Puerto Cortes on the northern coast. With 4,000 square feet of docking space capable of accommodating 10 vessels at a time, Puerto Cortes handles over half the country's export trade, on and off-loading 14 to 25 containers of goods an hour. Consistent with its larger privatization efforts, the Flores administration is seeking to open Honduran ports to private sector participation.

The 4 international airports in Honduras have already been turned over to private management. A U.S.-Honduran consortium led by the San Francisco International Airport (SFIA) will run the airports for the next 20 years. Under the terms of the agreement with the Honduran government, the consortium will invest US$120 million in the airports over the next 20 years, making physical improvements and raising the standards of efficiency, safety, and services.

The telecommunications infrastructure was greatly expanded in the 1990s. Empresa Hondurena de Telecomunicaciones (Hondutel), the state-owned telecommunications firm, increased the number of phone lines from 87,311 in 1990 to 373,032 in 1998. In 2000, as part of its structural adjustment agreement with the IMF, the Honduran government attempted to partially privatize Hondutel by selling 51 percent of the company's shares to the private sector. However, an October auction produced only a single bid for the shares. Telefonos de Mexico offered to pay US$106 million for the majority stock, but that offer was soundly rebuffed by Honduran privatization officials who set the minimum selling price at US$300 million. As part of the takeover agreement, any company which purchases the shares in Hondutel will be required to install 23,500 pay phones and add 600,000 kilometers of fixed lines in Honduras by the end of 2005. Honduran officials are seeking buyers in the United States and Europe, hoping to possibly attract an international consortium to take over company operations.

In 1999 Hondurans received about two-thirds of their energy from state-owned hydroelectric plants, with thermal plants providing the rest. Energy demands are increasing by about 12 percent a year, driven upwards by a widening industrial base and a rural electrification program. The heavily indebted state-run energy corporation, Empresa Nacional de la Energia Electrica (ENEE), is increasingly turning to private sources for help in meeting the country's growing energy needs. The Flores administration has expressed a commitment to privatize the state-run power plants, both hydroelectric and thermal, which together provided over three-quarters of the country's energy in 1999.

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