1‚000% increase in terrorism activity in Africa since 2006


A photograph made available on 11 March 2015 shows Nigerian soldiers on patrol in Chibok, Borno State, North East Nigeria The Nigerian military have been working in conjunction with neighbouring West African countries to contain the wave of attacks by Boko Haram Islamic militants in the North East of Africa’s most populous country.
Image by: STR / EPA

High rates of youth unemployment and a lack of formal basic education could be a possible link to growing terrorism on the African continent‚ a new report has found.

The report‚ titled “Africa at a tipping point” by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and released ahead of its 2017 Ibrahim Forum‚ now in its tenth year‚ has revealed that terrorist activity in Africa has grown by 1‚000% in the past 10 years.

The lack of economic opportunity mixed with democratic fatigue and political disenfranchisement may become a “toxic brew”‚ the report’s introduction read.

“The 1‚000% increase in terrorist attacks in Africa over a decade and the rising number of those risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean show where frustration‚ anger and despair can lead.

“Terrorism’s growing footprint on the continent is fuelling conflict‚ division and instability and damaging prosperity by acting as a parasite on economies. The jobs‚ status and income that terrorism offers to young people who are cut off from the mainstream economy may be more attractive than the ideology itself‚” the report continued.

To place these findings into context‚ the report says that 60% of the continent’s population are under 25 years of age. In 2050‚ Africa will be home to 452-million people between the ages of 15 and 24 but these youngsters today “feel devoid of economic prospects and robbed of any say on the future of their own continent”.

Youth unemployment forms a large part of the frustration these young men and women hold.

Youth unemployment forms a large part of the frustration these young men and women hold.

The report contains statistics of unemployment compiled from various reports‚ showing that Swaziland‚ South Africa and countries such as Libya and Gambia have close to 50% youth unemployment rates compared to the total labour force.

“In most African countries for which there are data available in the last ten years‚ the majority of people employed only have a basic level of education.

“Algeria‚ Mauritius and South African have the highest rates of employed people with an advanced education” – at around 20%.

This in turn‚ is providing fertile ground for violent extremism.

The report found that between 2013 and 2014 the number of terrorist events in Africa almost doubled‚ with 75% of the total terrorist events in those years occurring in Libya‚ Nigeria and Somalia. The Global Terrorism Database found that between 2006 and 2015‚ 17‚930 people died in Nigeria alone in terrorism-related incidents. The two deadliest terrorist groups in Africa are Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram‚ with an annual turnover of $70-million and $25-million respectively.

Al-Shabaab has mastered the social media space‚ a conduit most often accessed by the youth‚ especially Twitter – most notably its live-tweeting of its attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in September 2013.

The report seeks to showcase the scale of the challenge against violent extremism.

The Forum brings together a diverse range of high-level African stakeholders from the public and private arena as well as “influential partners based outside the continent” to hold talks on issues affecting the continent‚ and possible solutions. It took place in April in Marrakesh‚ Morocco.



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