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Colombia: Utilities
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Services > Utilities


In 1987 both national and local governments provided basic utility services, including water and electricity. In the case of water and sewerage services, the system was simple in design and basically incapable of meeting the needs of the country. Water and sewerage services were coordinated in urban areas by the Departmental and Municipal Sanitary Works (Empresa de Obras Sanitarias Departamentales y Municipales) and in rural areas by the National Institute of Health (Instituto Nacional de Salud). Quality and area of service covered, however, varied markedly.

Only 60 percent of Colombia's inhabitants had access to some type of water supply, and only 49 percent were served by a sewerage system. As might be suspected, the major urban areas had the most comprehensive systems, with 85 percent of the population having access to potable water and 75 percent to sewerage facilities. Although efforts had been made to expand basic services, in 1988 the lack of adequate facilities was still a major problem in much of Colombia.

A loose network of national and local companies supplied electricity to most rural areas. Two national companies, the Colombian Institute of Electric Energy (Instituto Colombiano de Energía Eléctrica -- Icel) and the Caribbean Coast Electric Corporation (Corporación Eléctrica de la Costa Atlántica -- Corelca), produced most of Colombia's electricity. Regional companies, such as the Cauca Autonomous Regional Corporation (Corporación Autónoma Regional del Cauca -- Cvc), and municipal organizations, including the Medellín Public Works (Empresas Públicas de Medellín -- Eeppm) and the Bogotá Electric Energy Enterprise (Empresa de Energía Eléctrica de Bogotá -- EEEB), produced their own electricity while acting as connectors to the national system. In its entirety, the national electric system was known as the Electric Interconnection Company (Interconexión Eléctrica S.A. -- ISA) and had headquarters in Medellín.

Icel was the largest electricity company in 1987. It produced one-third of all national electricity and served fifteen departments through thirteen subsidiary plants. Corelca, the second largest, provided electricity to six coastal departments, as well as to Isla de San Andrés and Isla de Providencia. EEEB serviced much of Cundinamarca, including all of Bogotá.

Installed electric capacity as of June 1987 was 8.1 gigawatts. Seventy-six percent was provided by hydroelectric plants, with the remainder produced by thermoelectric projects. Electricity output met only 8 percent of total energy requirements in 1987, however, whereas petroleum, natural gas, and coal provided 57 percent, 14 percent, and 21 percent, respectively. Consumption was greatest in the residential sector, which accounted for 49 percent of demand, followed by industry with 28 percent, the public sector with 12 percent, and the commercial sector with 11 percent.

Although the expansion of electricity works placed enormous strains on financial resources, Colombia was proceeding with the development of new hydroelectric projects. More than 800 megawatts were added to the country's generating capacity in 1987; loans from development agencies provided needed capital to continue expansion into remote areas, such as the Amazon.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Colombia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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