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Madagascar: Transportation and Communications
Country Study > Chapter 4 > The Economy > Transportation and Communications


The expansion of the economy is hindered by an inadequate transportation system that deteriorated throughout the 1980s 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, AĆ©roports 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

Last Updated: August 1994

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Madagascar was first published in 1994. 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

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Section 37 of 55


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