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South Africa Table of Contents

South Africa

Transportation and Telecommunications

Transportation System: Government corporation, Transnet Ltd., embarking on privatization. Transnet divisions: Spoornet (railroads), Portnet (ports), Autonet (roads), Petronet (pipelines), South African Airways (SAA), PX (parcel delivery service).

Railroads: Well-developed rail network: 21,303 kilometers, almost all narrow-gauge (regional standard), 1.067-meter; 314 kilometers, 0.610-meter gauge. 18,241 kilometers electrified; 3,009 bridges; 625 stations. Reliance on steam power or steam-generated electricity; hauled 164 million tons of freight, 600 million intercity passengers, 1994. Urban commuter lines managed by South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC); more than 2 million urban commuters daily.

Roads: Extensive national, provincial, and municipal road system: 5,943 kilometers freeways; 93,000 kilometers all-weather, paved roads; 130,000 kilometers unpaved, gravel or earth roads. More than 3.5 million passenger cars, 2.5 million commercial vehicles. Bus, private van service vital to urban commuters. World record accident fatality rates in urban areas.

Ports: Six major ports: Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, East London, Saldanha Bay; secondary ports: Mossel Bay, Simonstown. First-class facilities and services. At least 104 million tons of cargo shipped and more than 16 million tons landed per year.

Civil Aviation: South African Airways (SAA) national carrier (forty-eight aircraft), increasing competition from smaller airlines. Nine major airports: three international--Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban; plus Bloemfontein, East London, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, George, and Upington. Five runways more than 3,659 meters; ten runways 2,440 meters to 3,659 meters. In addition, at least 140 permanent surface runways and 250 landing strips, private and commercial use.

Pipelines: 931 kilometers crude oil; 1,748 kilometers other petroleum products; 322 kilometers natural gas.

Telecommunications: Advanced, modern system managed by Telkom SA Ltd., served racial minority until mid-1990s. Carrier-equipped, open-wire lines, coaxial cables, radio relay links, fiber optic cable, and radiocommunication stations. Key centers: Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria. State-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation subject to independent review for political neutrality; increasing competition from independent stations. Radio service from fourteen amplitude modulation (AM) stations, 286 frequency modulation (FM) stations; near-universal access; estimated 7 million radios, not licensed. Government funds Channel Africa, 203 hours weekly broadcasts outside South Africa. At least 2.2 million televisions. Three main TV channels; English, Afrikaans, five African languages, Hindi, Tamil. M-Net (880,000 subscribers) broadcasts in above languages plus Hebrew, Greek, Portuguese. Three satellite earth stations. Telephones: more than 5.3 million (1996), priority on service to rural areas; cellular telephone service expanding rapidly.

Data as of May 1996