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Eritrea: Transport and communications
[June 06, 2006]

Eritrea: Transport and communications

(EIU Viewswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)COUNTRY BACKGROUND



The extensive Italian-built road and rail network was almost completely destroyed during the war of independence from Ethiopia. The only fully tarred roads are the links from Asmara, the capital, to Massawa and to Teseney. Work on the 360-km Asmara-Teseney roadwhich began in 1994 but was interrupted by the conflict with Ethiopiaentered its final phase in 2005 with the reconstruction of five bridges destroyed during the war of independence, with help from workers under the governments development campaign known as Warsay-Yikalo. The other main route, which is in reasonable condition, connects Asmara and Keren with Afabet and Nakfa in the north. There are two roads leading into Tigray that are passable by bus and lorry. Upgrading of the 580-km Massawa-Assab coastal road began in June 2004. Construction of a 10-km road connecting Massawa International Airport with the main Asmara-Massawa road was completed in late November 2005.


Eritreas only railway was built in the 1930s, linking Massawa with Agordat in the western lowlands. In 1995 repair work began at the Massawa end of the line, using volunteer labour and old rail stock, and was completed as far as Asmara in 2003.

Air services

Asmara International Airport had been renovated but was damaged by Ethiopian bombs during the conflict. A new international airport was completed in Massawa in 2004. Assab has a small airport, and there are air strips at Nakfa and Teseney. Eritreas first privately owned airline, Eri-Air, began operations in May 2001. The new national carrier, Eritrean Airlines, made its maiden flight in April 2003 and now serves destinations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


Telecommunications are still poor, but the government approved the availability of Internet access in February 2001 and licensed four companies as Internet service providers (ISPs). The ISPs offer walk-in bureaux to allow access with dial-up charges set at Nfa0.6 (15 US cents) for three minutes. Eritreas first mobile-phone company, Ericel, a joint venture between the government and a South African company, was launched in May 2001. In April 2006 China supplied a loan of US$23m to the government to develop the network for both fixed-line and mobile telephones.


Daily radio and television broadcasts, controlled by the government, are made in local languages, and the government produces its own newspaper in Tigrinya, as well as an English-language weekly.

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