Philippines - Infrastructure, power, and communications

The transport infrastructure includes 492 kilometers (306 miles) of working railroads and 199,950 kilometers (124,249 miles) of roads, of which 39,590 kilometers (24,601 miles) are paved. In the first quarter of 2000, infrastructure projects got the biggest share of official development assistance (ODA) loans, taking 66 percent of the $11.4 billion ODA package extended to the Philippines. Among the projects are plans to decongest traffic by expanding roads and building bridges and highway interchanges.

The Philippine archipelago has more than 1,490 ports that serve to connect its major islands. As of 1996, there were 566 registered cargo and container ships, and total cargo handled was estimated at 140.1 million tons. The busiest national port is in Manila. Ninety percent of the country's imports and more than 20 percent of its exports pass through its South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal. In February 2001 the Philippine Ports Authority earmarked US$122 million to upgrade port services here and in even other locations.

As of 1999, there were 266 registered airports and 5 domestic airlines operating in the Philippines. Beginning in 2000, the government and its private-sector partners speeded up the schedule for the construction and upgrading of at least 20 airports to enable them to meet world standards by 2004.

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
Philippines 79 159 108 8.2 22 N/A 15.1 1.29 500
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
China N/A 333 272 40.0 19 1.6 8.9 0.50 8,900
Indonesia 24 156 136 N/A 5 0.9 8.2 0.76 900
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.

In 1986 the country's economy was severely crippled by continuous power shortages that lasted more than 10 hours daily, paralyzing the manufacturing sector. In 1992 the Ramos administration took steps to resolve this problem by allowing private operators to build more power plants that substantially improved the country's power-generating capacity. By March 2000, 74 percent of the country's households had access to electric service, and dependence on oil-run power plants was reduced to 19 percent from a previous high of 80 percent. Power is now generated from several sources, including coal (38 percent), geothermal (27 percent), and hydro-electric (16 percent). The opening of the offshore Malampaya gas field in Palawan will further reduce dependence on foreign oil with its initial production rate of 145 billion cubic feet annually, which can be used to create 2,700 megawatts of power.

Under the Ramos administration, the monopolistic (one company in control) telecommunications industry was opened up to competition and by 2001 there were more than 50 firms offering service. Telephone density per 100 inhabitants nearly tripled during the 1990s, from 3 lines per 100 inhabitants in 1992 to 8 lines in 1998. In 1999 there were 1.9 million main lines in use and another 1.95 million cellular telephones, plus 93 Internet service providers. In September 2000, Globe Telecom and 7 other telecommunication carriers in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to create the C2C Cable Network, an under-sea fiber-optic-cable system, worth US$2 billion. Upon completion, the C2C network will be able to accommodate 90 million conversations simultaneously.

The Philippines has been recognized as the global capital for text messaging, a feature of digital mobile phones virtually ignored in other countries. This allows the user to type brief messages and send it to another mobile phone. Each day, more than 18 million text messages are transmitted in the country, twice as many as in all of Europe. However, high fees make this service still out of reach for most people.

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