Belarus - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Belarus has an extensive though aging infrastructure , which is badly in need of investment for repair and maintenance. A network of over 5,488 kilometers (3,409 miles) of railways and 52,131 kilometers (32,380 miles) of primary and secondary roads serve the country. About 11 percent of all roads are unpaved. The railways are used to transport both people and goods, and are in moderate use by international transit linking Western and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the country has a large and widely used canal and river system, with 1 port at Mazyr. Nearly 5 percent of the former Soviet Union's fleet of ships are

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
Belarus 174 296 314 N/A 1 1.9 N/A 0.77 50
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Ukraine 54 884 490 15.7 2 0.0 13.8 4.56 200
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 Belarus. There are 118 large and small airports, few of which meet international standards. Only 36 airports have paved runways.

Belarus remains highly dependent on imported energy and has made little progress toward diversifying its exports and entering new markets. Many energy consumers, such as households, businesses, and even government offices, have not been able to pay their utility bills. Energy debt, mostly for natural gas, stood at more than US$250 million in May 2000. The government attempted to pay its debts by bartering and through agreements directly with Russia and Lithuania. Even though the large majority of electricity and fuel is imported, there is some domestic production of energy. In 2000 Belarus produced 25 billion kilowatts (kWh) of electric power, 1.8 million tons of gasoline, 3,500 tons of diesel fuel, and 5.6 million tons of industrial fuel oil.

Telecommunications services in Belarus are inadequate for both public and business use. Hundreds of thousands of applications from household telephones remain unsatisfied. Some investment on international connections and businesses has taken place, much of it in Minsk. There were 296 radios per 1,000 people in 1997, and 314 televisions per 1,000 people in 1998. A domestic cellular telephone system operated in Minsk, but only 1 person out of 1,000 owned a cellular phone in 1998. By 2000, the country had 9 Internet service providers. However, the number of personal computers in the country was very low.

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