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Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast


Telecommunications, like so many other areas, reflected Côte d'Ivoire's colonial heritage. Thus, 251 telephone circuits linked Côte d'Ivoire with France, and 29 linked it with Senegal, the former colonial seat for French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française--OAF; see Glossary). No circuits linked Côte d'Ivoire directly with its immediate neighbors. A telephone call from Abidjan to Accra, Ghana, traveled via Paris and London to Accra. Recognizing the inconvenience of such arrangements, the government planned by 1990 to lay a marine cable linking Côte d'Ivoire with Senegal, Guinea, Liberia, and Gambia. In addition, nineteen telephone circuits linked Côte d'Ivoire with the United States and nineteen with Britain.

In 1984 there were 87,700 installed telephone lines in the country, or 1.3 telephones per 100 people. Only 45 percent of the telephones were working at any one time because of technical problems, however, so actual users of telephone service numbered 59,247. In 1986 Abidjan had 67.9 percent of the total number of telephone lines in the country, or one telephone per 50 inhabitants compared with one telephone per 430 inhabitants in the interior of the country. At the end of 1986, outside of Abidjan 115 cities had telephone service, of which 44 were equipped with automatic installations. The government intended to construct a network of satellite earth stations in the interior in the early 1990; the network would improve rural telephone service dramatically. Meanwhile, the military, government offices, and some businesses used radio communications, which were the responsibility of the National Telecommunications Bureau (Office Nationale de Télécommunications--ONT).

As of the mid-1980s, ONT was beset with problems in spite of its new US$35 million headquarters. It suffered from traffic congestion, a poor call-completion rate (as few as 50 percent, 30 percent, and 20 percent for urban, interurban, and international call attempts, respectively); poor billing and collections (accounts receivable amounted to twelve months' receipts, or CFA F31 billion); an inadequate tariff structure; and lack of oversight. Moreover, the ONT often bought sophisticated technology that ended up increasing rather than reducing maintenance costs.

In 1982 the postal service handled 59,861,000 pieces of mail and 581,000 telegrams, or approximately 6 pieces per capita. There were 1,181 telex subscriber lines.

Data as of November 1988