Rise in African terrorist attacks could deter investor confidence

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“I would like to look at it as a trend. Since the 2000s we’ve seen greater incidents of terrorism in the continent, particularly in West Africa in the Sahel region as well as East Africa.

“The incidents that have been happening in Mali, the chaos in the Central African Republic, it’s sort of creating a new frontier of the fight against terror,” Political Analysis South Africa chief analyst Mzoxolo Mpolase told CNBC Africa.

“We do know that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as well as groups that have self-determination in the region culminated in this new terror threat that we find in the region.”

The 21 September shooting at Westgate Mall in Kenya, where over 50 people were killed, thrust Islamic militant and terrorist groups further into the spotlight and the incident has since garnered international condemnation.

The Westgate Mall shooting was shortly followed by the gunning down of over 40 students in the Yobe state of Nigeria by suspected Islamist extremists.

“[Investors] will be worried because it deviates from the traditional political risk or economic risk associated with the continent, now that you have terrorism as an emerging threat. Traditionally, it has been the issue of governance or the lack of good governance that was the problem,” Mpolase explained.

“Now you’re having this breakdown of law and this cross border nature of terrorism, which poses quite a lot of danger for countries which are traditionally weak.”

Numerous policies and programmes aimed at creating open borders between countries on the continent have been implemented. However, the growing security risks associated with open borders has halted the processes.

“When it comes to regional integration, often the saying goes that, with regional integration we inherit all our characteristics, which would be success, failure.

“Basically, if we have the breakdown of institutions, if we have terror existing in another country and with integration, these problems pose a challenge to the collective,” said Mpolase.

“We do know that Africa has got weak state institutions and this is something that we aren’t able to deal with as countries. How much more are we able to deal with, when the threat is elevated at the regional international level?”