Militant activity is rising across sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the west

18 July 2018 3 min. read
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Adding yet another dimension to it overview of the investment environment across sub-Saharan Africa, London-based risk consultancy has now released analysis on the terrorist activity across the continent, and the results do not bode well. The number of attacks registered between 2017 and 2018 is nearly five times the number registered in 2013.

As a global firm, investing in African economies can be perceived as risky due to a range of factors, from unstable economic conditions and volatile political upheavals to downright terrorism – as is evident in new analysis by Control Risks. The last year has seen a number of these risks manifested.

Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola and a number of other economies on the continent saw a change in leadership after prolonged reigns characterised by varying degrees of authoritarianism. In a report released by Control Risks earlier this year, the firm revealed that countries such as the Central African Republic, Somalia and Sudan have the highest levels of risk when it comes to the political environment.

On the other hand, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana and Senegal are some of the most politically stable countries in Africa. Another report released by the firm this year described East Africa as the region offering the highest rewards for investment. The consulting firm's latest analysis has now revealed the areas in sub-Saharan Africa that face the highest levels of terrorism, with a specific focus on Islamic terrorism.

Militant activity is rising across sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the west

In 2013, the total number of Islamic militant attacks recorded across the continent stood at 317, which is already a substantial number for one year, but pales in comparison to the 1,549 attacks recorded between April of last year and April of this year, a large portion of which were driven by the close proximity with the Islamic State.

Jean Devlin, Partner at Control Risks and Head of African analysis at the firm explains the scenario by saying, “many factors lie behind this, including the local dynamics of long-standing conflicts and insurgencies. Security forces are struggling to comprehensively degrade the capability of these groups, and as a result the threat is proving resilient despite gains made.”

Zooming in on individual countries, Somalia recorded the highest number of attacks in the last year at 879, which also represents more than half the attacks recorded across the continent. The prominent terrorist group Al Shabaab is responsible for a large portion of the violence in the country, as it attempts to fulfill its anti-government agenda.

With 79 attacks over the last year, Kenya is the only East African country to have faced issues with terrorism. 36% of the total incidents were recorded in West Africa, with Nigeria reporting 220 attacks, Mali reporting 194, and Cameroon reported 96. Amongst the Southern African countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo reported 42 attacks and Mozambique reported 12, although the latter is particularly concerning since this number has risen from 1 to 12 since October when the first attack was recorded. South Africa reported one terrorist attack last year.