Turkey - Infrastructure, power, and communications

As an emerging market Turkey has a competitive commercial infrastructure. However, the government faces a continual challenge to meet the demands of a rapidly growing economy, and gives special priority to major infrastructure projects, particularly in the transport and energy sectors.

By the end of 1999, Turkey had 118 airports, 22 of which were open to international traffic. However, a large majority of international traffic targets 3 main airports: Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir, and Esenboga Airport in the capital, Ankara. The new international passenger terminal in Istanbul, which opened in January 2000, is one of the largest in Europe. Several more new airports are under construction, including one on the Asian side of Istanbul. Over 300 foreign airlines serve Turkey, in addition to Turkish Airlines (THY). THY, with its fleet of 73 passenger planes, operates to both domestic and international destinations. There are 15 additional public and private domestic airlines operating on a smaller scale.

Shipping plays an important role in the Turkish economy. This is no surprise, since over 70 percent of Turkey's boundaries consist of 4 seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Marmara in the northwest, the Aegean in the west, and the Mediterranean in the south-southwest. The country's 8,430-kilometer coastline is covered with large and small ports, 21 of them international. Five ports, all state-owned, handle most of the country's sea freight: Istanbul and Kocaeli on the Sea of Marmara, Izmir on the Aegean, and Mersin and Iskenderun on the Mediterranean. Seaports on the Black Sea coast mainly handle export cargo of steel products, tea, and hazelnuts, and import cargo of coal, iron ore, raw minerals, fertilizers, and bulk construction materials. The area around the Marmara Sea is the country's industrial heartland and these ports serve a vital function in Turkey's economy, handling cargo carrying raw industrial materials, semi-finished materials, chemicals, steel, and petroleum. The Marmara Sea is also the only connection between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean through 2 straits, and is therefore one of the busiest maritime routes in the world. The Mediterranean ports also handle domestic and international cargo traffic. Iskenderun handles 75 percent of Turkey's steel exports, while a nearby port serves both the domestic and the Iraqi oil pipeline. Mersin, one of the main ports of the eastern Mediterranean, acts as an export hub for southeast Anatolia's products.

The railway system is one of the weakest modes of transportation in Turkey. Although the country has 10,933 kilometers (6,778 miles) of railways running between its western and eastern borders, only 2,133 kilometers (1,322 miles) are electrified. The railroads are state-owned and operated, but rail expansion has not been politically popular for the last several decades and has lacked funding. Most commercial and public transportation, therefore, must rely on other means while the aging rail system, badly in need of renovation, is primarily used to carry minerals and bulk commodities over long distances. The government has, however, begun engaging in plans for both the modernization of existing lines and the addition of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of railway.

The highway transport system carries over 95 percent of passenger transport and over 90 percent of the surface transport of goods in Turkey. The country's road network is extensive, with over 382,000 kilometers (nearly 237,000 miles) of roads. By the end of 1999, 1,726 kilometers (1,070 miles) of this network consisted of motorways, and a total of 96,000 kilometers (59,520 miles) was tarred. The government has made strenuous efforts to extend and improve its road network, especially in the building of additional motorways. The economic crisis of 1998 and the earthquakes of 1999 caused some of these projects to be postponed, but they, and others, are expected to go ahead.

Turkish telecommunications services are undergoing rapid modernization and expansion. As of 1999, Turkey

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
Turkey 111 180 286 9.2 53 1.7 23.2 8.06 1,500
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
United Kingdom 329 1,436 645 45.9 252 33.9 263.0 270.60 12,500
Greece 153 477 466 1.2 194 3.8 51.9 59.57 750
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.

had more than 19 million telephone lines, exceeding a density of 25 percent. The target density for 2005 is 40 percent. Turk Telekom, a state-owned enterprise, provides basic telephone services in the country, utilizing a variety of communication systems including satellite, submarine cable, and fiber-optic cable. The government has announced plans to privatize up to 49 percent of the company in the near future. The country is also seeing a rapid expansion in cellular telephone services, with many licenses sold to private companies. The current cellular density is estimated at 15 percent and is expected to reach 30 percent by 2010. Cellular phones have received widespread acceptance in the large cities, where they have become a part of daily life among both business executives and teenagers. The Internet is also a well-accepted communication/information medium in Turkey, again primarily in the urban areas. At the end of 1999, Turkey had 1.7 million Internet users, 70 Internet service providers, and 8.06 Internet hosts per 10,000 people. Internet usage is seeing rapid growth, primarily due to cutting-edge Internet banking operations.

Turkey faces one of its biggest challenges in the energy sector. Rapid urbanization and strong economic growth have led to one of the fastest growing power markets in the world. It is no secret that Turkey is facing a major hurdle in trying to meet the demands of such growth. In 1999, imported energy supplied 60 percent of the country's primary energy consumption, and energy imports are expected to reach 75 percent by 2020. Turkey has an installed electric capacity of 26,500 megawatts, of which about 11,000 megawatts is hydroelectric and the balance is thermal power. This capacity not only cannot meet the 8-10 percent projected annual increase in demand, but is also insufficient for present needs. The Turkish government has been actively seeking investments and developing projects to triple energy production by 2010. The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) is expected to be completed in 2005, and is the most crucial public project in Turkey. When complete, the 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power plants that are a part of this project will produce 22 percent of Turkey's projected electricity requirements. Due to the current shortage of electric capacity, the 220-volt power system has suffered from occasional blackouts.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: