Tajikistan - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Tajikistan's infrastructure is relatively well developed. For example, a network of 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles) of roads, mostly paved—though not in the best of conditions—covers large parts of the country. Despite the extensive road system, however, there is only 1 road linking Dushanbe with Khudzhand, the second biggest city in the country, which is located in the northern Leninabad region. Because climatic conditions often make this land route unusable, plans are underway to build the 13-kilometer (8.1-mile) Anzob Tunnel. The total cost for the project will likely surpass US$300 million.

The railway system is only 480 kilometers (298 miles) long and connects a few main towns to the Uzbekistan railway network. A major project nearing completion by end of 2001 is the construction of a railway from Qurghonteppa to Kulob, the 2 largest towns in the south. The country has 59 airports, 14 having paved concourses, though not all are operational due to lack of maintenance. The largest airports are in Dushanbe, Khudzhand, and Kulob. International destinations are limited and travelling on Tajikistan Airlines's dilapidated fleet is considered dangerous. Travel to Tajikistan from other parts of the world is time consuming, expensive, and cumbersome.

Access to information and communication tools are limited, with only an estimated 38 people out of every 1,000 having private access to a telephone. Moreover, the existing telecommunications system is prone to breakdowns and is in dire need of upgrading. Tajikistan was the last country among the former East European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that was connected to the Internet. At least 2 Internet service providers and several cellular telephone companies of limited range operate in the country.

The 4 most important types of household fuel in Tajikistan are firewood, electricity, cow dung, and natural gas. Households and industry rely heavily on imported petroleum, natural gas, and—to a lesser extent— electricity, primarily from Uzbekistan. Tajikistan has an estimated 5.6 billion cubic meters of recoverable natural gas reserves, but due to financial barriers, it has been unable to increase its production. The government is attempting to encourage foreign companies to invest in joint ventures in the extraction of natural gas. The country's own oil production is about 3,000 barrels per day, while the consumption need of the country is more than 29,000 barrels per day. Tajikistan could be one of the world's leading per capita producers of energy if it were to expand its system of dams and hydroelectric plants. As it stands, due to the east-west configuration of its electricity grids, the country imports and exports electric energy without satisfying or affording its electricity needs. Large parts of the country, especially small towns and villages, face frequent and long periods of blackouts.

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