Ukraine - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Ukraine enjoys an extensive though aging infrastructure that has received much government attention in the 1990s. The transport network of Ukraine is dominated by railways, which total 23,350 kilometers (14,510 miles). It also has 273,700 kilometers (170,077 miles) of highways, 86 percent of which are paved. In 1990, the total length of navigable waterways was 4,499 kilometers. (2,796 miles).

There is a comparably well-developed air transport communication system in Ukraine. In 2000, there were 718 airports, 114 of which had paved runways. The main international airport is at Kiev and the nation's main airline is Air Ukraine. In 1997, about 1.8 million people either landed at or departed from airports in Ukraine.

Ukraine has a powerful merchant and passenger fleet, operating in the basins of the Black Sea and Sea of Asov, and on the navigable rivers. In 1999, the merchant marine included 156 ships that were larger than 1,000 tons. This included 105 general cargo ships, 14 rail carrier vessels, and 11 passenger ships. The nation's main ports are Kerch, Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol, and Reni.

An expanding array of tele-and radio communications are increasingly available and constantly improving, and new joint-venture companies provide modern technology development in this sphere. According to an estimate by the World Bank (2000-01), Ukraine has 54 daily newspapers (1996), 884 radios (1997), 490 televisions (1998), 191 telephone mainlines (1998), 2 mobile telephones (1998), and 13.8 personal computers (1998) per 1000 people. There are also 5.39 Internet hosts per 10,000 people (January 2000), or a total of 35 Internet service providers

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
Ukraine 54 884 490 15.7 2 0.0 13.8 4.56 200
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
Poland 113 523 413 83.3 50 N/A 43.9 40.86 2,100
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 the Soviet period, Ukraine was a net exporter of electricity both to former Soviet states, and to Eastern Europe. After independence it became a net energy importer. Overall, Ukraine generated about 158 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 1999, a 25 percent decline from 212 billion kWh in 1994. According to the World Bank, the electrical power consumption per capita in Ukraine has also drastically declined, from 4,308 kWh in 1990 to 2,449 kWh in 1997. With about 60 percent of Ukraine's electricity generated by fossil fuels (the remaining 40 percent being produced by nuclear and hydroelectric plants), this production decline has been exacerbated by problems in obtaining natural gas, oil, and coal supplies, mostly imported from Russia, who also provides Ukraine with nuclear fuel, for which Ukraine currently owes Russia $800 million. In 1998, Ukraine imported an estimated 344,000 barrels of oil per day and almost 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Ukraine's 5 nuclear power plants, with a capacity of 12.8 giga-watts (nearly one-quarter of the country's total capacity), generate around 70 billion kWh of energy (more than 40 percent of the country's power output). The construction of 2 new reactors (capacity 2 gigawatts) is in its final phase. In June 2000, Ukraine's nuclear power plants generated more than half of the nation's total electricity output, the first time that has happened since 1996, despite the fact that 5 of the nation's 14 nuclear reactors, with 24 percent of national capacity, were inactive in June. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident cast serious doubts about the safety of nuclear reactors in Ukraine and their ability to meet the long-term power needs of the nation.

Another factor which has harmed the nation's electrical sector, next to import and capacity problems, has been the growing number of defaulting electricity consumers. A report in mid-1996 stated that 40,000 businesses owed the electric companies some $1 billion in energy bills, representing 30 percent of the electricity consumed in the country. Also, about 35 percent of Ukrainian families receive their electricity free by law. Largely as a result of this situation, the Ukrainian Ministry of Power Engineering and Electrification has described itself as bankrupt.

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