Terrorism hits the heart of Africa

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This is according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) for 2013, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism from 2000 to 2013.

“In 2013 terrorist activity increased substantially with the total number of deaths rising from 11,133 in 2012 to 17,958 in 2013, a 61 per cent increase,” said the report.

“Over the same period, the number of countries that experienced more than 50 deaths rose from 15 to 24. This highlights that not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well.” 

(READ MORE: Africa comes together to fight terrorism )

A startling statistic however is that over 80 per cent of the lives lost to terrorist activity in 2013 occurred in only five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria.

The West African country was the hardest hit by terrorism on the continent, ranking fourth out of 162 countries on the index with a GTI score of 8.58 out of 10.

“The dramatic increase in Nigeria’s terrorism can be attributed to the rise of Boko Haram. In 2013, this Islamist terrorist group killed at least 1,587 people and claimed responsibility for nearly 90 per cent of all terrorist acts in Nigeria,” the report stated.

(READ MORE: Nigeria needs to attack terrorism)

“They are one of the most deadly terrorist groups in the world with an average of close to eight deaths per terrorist attack.”

Kenya, one of East Africa’s most advanced economies, ranked 12th on the index with a GTI score of 6.58.

Kenya experienced one of the worst terrorist attacks in 2013 when Islamist group, Al-Shabaab attacked Westgate Mall in Nairobi, causing 201 injuries and 72 fatalities.

(READ MORE: Kenyan economy strained by terrorist attacks)

The continent’s most developed economy, South Africa, ranked 48th on the index, tied with Malaysia, with a GTI score of 3.04 due to 12 incidents of terrorism which caused two fatalities, five injuries and involving five properties.

The IEP also identified 13 countries as being at the risk of increased terrorist activity from their current levels. Of which, six of Africa’s emerging economies made the list – Angola, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mali and Uganda.

“The economic costs of terrorism go further than the destruction of property and the loss of life. The increased costs of security, military expenditure and insurance often outweigh the original attack,” said the report.

It also noted that terrorist activities increased uncertainty in the markets, decreased foreign investment and changed consumption and savings behaviour.

For instance, the IMF stated that terrorism in Nigeria in 2010 was directly associated with a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) by 30 per cent the following year.

“The long term indirect costs of terrorism can be 10 to 20 times larger than the direct costs.”