Overview: Since independence in 1962, Algeria’s transportation system has been neglected. The country has a very limited road system and an antiquated rail network that is oriented more toward cargo than passenger traffic. Port activity revolves around the export of hydrocarbons. A state-owned airline faces diminished private competition. Algeria’s telecommunications system is also underdeveloped, particularly in rural areas.
Roads: Algeria has 104,000 kilometers of roads, two-thirds of which, or 71,656 kilometers, are paved. About 640 kilometers are regarded as expressways.
Railroads: Algerian National Railways (Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires—SNTF) manages Algeria’s 4,200-kilometer rail network, which suffers from mostly antiquated rolling stock and poor signaling equipment. In 2001 SNTF purchased 15 new locomotives from General Motors. At most 300 kilometers of broad-gauge track, dedicated to cargo traffic between iron-ore mines and the port of Annaba, are electrified. Rail lines service Algiers, major cities along the Mediterranean coast, and the border with Tunisia. Terrorism against the rail system led to a decline in the number of passengers carried, the distance traveled by passengers, and the amount of freight carried during the late 1990s. In Algiers a 26.5-kilometer metro line has been under construction since 1991 and is scheduled to open beginning in 2008.
Ports: Algeria has the following Mediterranean ports: Algiers, Annaba, Arzew, Bejaïa, Djendjene, Jijel, Mostaganem, Oran, and Skikda. The busiest port by far is Arzew, which handles about 40 million tons of cargo annually and is responsible for the largest share of Algerian crude oil exports; Skikda has the second largest share. Algiers, Annaba, Oran, and Bejaïa also handle crude oil exports. Algeria plans to expand the petrochemical facilities at Arzew.
Inland Waterways: Algeria has no navigable inland waterways.
Civil Aviation and Airports: Algeria has 124 airports, of which 53 have permanent surfaces. The country’s principal international airport is Algiers Houari Boumediene International Airport, with an annual capacity of 2 million passengers. In early 2006, the new Algeria International Airport is scheduled to open in Algiers with three times the capacity of the existing airport. Services will be transferred to the new facility by mid-2006. Algeria’s primary airline is state-owned Air Algérie, which dominates the sector in spite of competition from eight private airlines, notably including Khalifa Airways. However, in 2003 Khalifa Airways began to experience severe financial difficulties.
Pipelines: The state-owned Algerian oil company, Sonatrach, manages more than 2,400 kilometers of crude oil pipelines. The longest pipeline carries oil 805 kilometers from the Hassi Messaoud oil field to the port of Arzew. Sonatrach is building a parallel pipeline to more than double capacity. The only oil pipeline that crosses into another country runs 257 kilometers from the In Amenas oil field to the Tunisian export terminal at La Skhira. A network of natural gas pipelines emanates from the Hassi R’Mel natural gas field. Two pipelines carry natural gas from Algeria to Europe: the 1,078-kilometer Trans-Mediterranean pipeline to Italy and the 1,609-kilometer Maghreb-Europe Gas pipeline to Spain. Additional natural gas pipelines to Europe are planned.
Telecommunications: Outside of the urban north, Algeria’s telecommunications network is underdeveloped, and in general ownership of telephones, computers, televisions, and radios is very limited. According to the World Bank, it takes an average of 174 days to secure a telephone line in Algeria, the second longest time among 51 developing countries surveyed. However, the telecommunications sector has begun to expand since the government authorized the privatization of the sector in 2000. In accordance with this policy, Algérie Télécom, a new joint stock company, assumed control of fixed-line and mobile telephone service from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, which will be responsible for regulating the sector.
In 2001 Algeria had an average of 146 telephone mainlines and 110 mobile phones per 1,000 people. Telephone service is better in the north, particularly in urban areas, than in the rural south, where it is sparse. In 2001 Algeria had 292 television sets and 346 radios per 1,000 people. In 1999 there were 46 television broadcast stations, plus 216 repeaters, as well as 25 AM, one FM, and eight shortwave radio stations. In 2001 Algeria had 28.1 personal computers per 1,000 people, and Internet users totaled about 69 million. In 2004 the country had 897 Internet hosts.