A national fibre backbone is being implemented connecting the major cities. Wireless broadband access networks are being rolled out, enabling converged voice, data and entertainment services. The launch of third generation (3G) mobile broadband services has enabled the mobile operators to reverse their rapidly declining average revenue per user (ARPU).
The fixed-line sector has been undergoing a revolution following the privatisation of Telma. Major investments have been made and the number of fixed lines has grown steadily, albeit from a very low base. ADSL2+ broadband services have been introduced and the decline in fixed-line revenue has been successfully reversed.
Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing roughly 80% of the population. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns.
After discarding socialist economic policies in the mid-1990s, Madagascar followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization until the onset of a political crisis, which lasted from 2009 to 2013. The free market strategy had placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low starting point. Exports of apparel boomed after gaining duty-free access to the US in 2000; however, Madagascar’s failure to comply with the requirements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) led to the termination of the country’s duty-free access in January 2010, a sharp fall in textile production, and a loss of more than 100,000 jobs.
Madagascar regained AGOA access in January 2015 following the democratic election of a new president the previous year. In November 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a Rapid Credit Facility to Madagascar worth about $42.1 million to help the government meet its balance of payments needs. The IMF also approved a staff monitoring program to guide policy implementation and indicated that Madagascar must demonstrate the capability to sustain reforms to qualify for future requests for a credit facility.