Georgia - Infrastructure, power, and communications

There are 20,298 kilometers (12,613 miles) of roads in Georgia which consist of international motor roads (1,474 kilometers/916 miles), internal state motor roads (3,330 kilometers/2,069 miles), and local roads (15,494 kilometers/9,628 miles). The vast majority of roads are in poor condition. A Georgian railway network was established in 1872, which grew to 1,583 kilometers (984 miles) of track in 2000. T'bilisi is connected by rail to the capitals of Azerbaijan and Armenia, but due to unrest in Abkhazia, the route to Russia and Europe has not been in operation since the early 1990s. In 1988, during the last years of the Soviet regime, Georgian railways transported 36.2 million metric tons of cargo. The volume declined to 4.7 million metric tons in 1995, or only 13 percent of total railway production. Since that date, the volume of cargo has steadily increased, reaching 9.4 million metric tons in 1999.

The Georgian electricity power sector is in urgent need of modernization, refurbishment, and investment. The provision of electricity to Georgian citizens has declined every year since 1995 and the lack of power is an obstacle to economic growth. In 1998, a U.S.-based energy company (AES Corporation) bought Telasi, Georgia's bankrupt electricity distribution company. Government corruption, non-payment of bills, and a reliance on aging hydroelectric and thermal

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
Georgia N/A 555 473 2.8 11 N/A N/A 1.59 20
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.

power stations have all contributed to the electricity shortage. During the winter of 2000-01, electricity supply to households was an average of 4 hours per day. These shortages have inflicted misery on an already dis-enchanted population. Widespread protests and street demonstrations during November 2000 provided a safety valve for popular frustration but aroused fears of another civil war.

The communications sector is the most stable sector of the economy and has attracted the interest of foreign investors. The modernization of ground lines is a process that will continue for some years while the mobile phone operator networks have enjoyed rapid expansion. In 1998, there were 115 telephone lines, 11 cellular phones, and 0.1 public phones per 1,000 citizens. Most of the public phones, however, were in serious disrepair. Internet service providers have also recorded increased business but access to computers remains the luxury of a privileged few (0.15 per 1,000 citizens).

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