Country Listing

Madagascar Table of Contents


Transportation and Telecommunications

Figure 4. Madagascar: Transportation System, 1994

The expansion of the economy is hindered by an inadequate transportation system that deteriorated throughout the 1980s (see fig. 4). Only 4,000 kilometers (10 percent) of an estimated 40,000-kilometer road network is asphalted (no all-weather road links the capital with the southern and northern extremes of the island), and the state-controlled railroad consists of 1,095 kilometers of track in two limited (and separate) railroad systems. The first connects the capital of Antananarivo with the port city of Toamasina, the rice-producing area of Lake Alaotra, and the town of Antsirabe; the second connects the regional capital of Fianarantsoa with the coastal town of Manakara.

The country's ports and airports fare better than the land or rail network. Madagascar has fifteen major ports along the 4,828- kilometer coastline, of which Toamasina, Mahajanga, and Antsiranana are the most important. The air network revolves around the main international airport, Ivato-Antananarivo. The country technically contains 211 airfields, but only approximately 50 percent are usable, and only thirty maintain permanent-surface runways. Whereas the national airline, Air Madagascar, is two-thirds owned by the government (Air France owns the remaining one-third), twelve airports (including IvatoAntananarivo ) were taken over in 1990 by a private company, Aéroports de Madagascar.

In 1994 Madagascar's telecommunication system was sparse, serving only commercial users and residents of large towns and cities. Almost 60 percent of the country's 27,200 telephones were located in Antananarivo in 1989. Figures for that year showed that the country averaged only three telephones per 1,000 inhabitants, and service was limited to government offices, large companies, and a few wealthy families in urban areas. The telecommunications system deteriorated appreciably during the 1980s so that Madagascar had fewer telephones in 1994 than in 1975. Two satellite ground stations near the capital provide excellent international links via the International Telecommunications Satellite Corporation's (Intelsat's) Indian Ocean satellite and the Symphonie ground station, working with a European telecommunications satellite.

Broadcast services are thinly scattered countrywide. The entire country has only seventeen mediumwave amplitude modulation (AM) radio stations--a powerful transmitter in the capital and sixteen low-power repeaters in other cities. A government-owned, AM shortwave station broadcasting in French and Malagasy on five frequencies reaches listeners in remote locations and in neighboring countries. In addition, Radio Nederlands has a powerful station in western Madagascar that relays Radio Nederlands's programs throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean on shortwave frequencies. Antananarivo and two other cities each have a single frequency modulation (FM) station. Thirty-seven low-power television transmitters broadcast for three and a half hours daily in urban areas.

Data as of August 1994