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Their new report is custom made for the media's top ten lists. There are no surprises on the list other than the inclusion of South Sudan as one of the countries "most at risk from terrorist attacks."
The investment advisor's selection of the top twenty countries and territories in the ‘extreme risk,’ category are:
5) South Sudan
7) Palestinian Occupied Territories
8) DR Congo
9) Central African Republic
The company states:
The (Terrorism Risk Index) TRI has been developed by Maplecroft to enable business to identify and monitor the risks posed by terrorism to employees and assets in 197 countries. The index draws on the latest and most comprehensive data available to calculate the frequency and lethality of terrorist incidents over the 12 month period prior to April 1st 2011. The TRI also includes a historical component assessing the number of attacks over five years and assesses risks relating to countries’ geographic proximity to terrorist hotspots.
Sharp eyed readers will note the lack of Mexico, Libya and other extremely violent places as well as the irritating need to include massive nations like India and Russia that have regional insurgencies. There is also the very western habit of only including direct action conducted by recognized terror group but not giving context. There is no inclusion of foreign troops who die from terrorist attacks, no mention of "safe" countries that are the target of foreign terrorist groups and an arbitrary inclusion of "territories" without applying the same discipline when analyzing relatively calm places Kurdistan or Somaliland.
Perhaps more importantly there is no estimate of the death and destruction caused by what terrorist groups "don't" do as in the case of al-Shabaab severely hindering aid organizations and civilians. All in all it would seem the world needs to move beyond simplistic labels and assumptions and look towards use the global flow of data to create more constructive observations.
Tracking terrorism also requires a reporting system that clearly pushes the military obsession of recording every possible incident in Afghanistan and Iraq to the top end of the list.
In addition to their regional blind spots, these press releases rarely invest the energy to point out that within all these regions are unique opportunities for investment. Afghanistan, Iraq, the Congo and other "difficult places" like Somaliland, Puntland and even Mogadishu to a certain extent offer opportunities for investors. The spectacular rise of the mobile phone business and money transfer company Dahabshiil are a couple of examples. The recent restarting of the petroleum exploration business and even fledgling airline service are signs that even the world's most dangerous place is populated by industrious investors and a functioning customer base.
A recent report by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) shows that despite the extraordinary stress, violence and dysfunction in Somalia, markets still function. The impressive report deduces that, "Markets continue to function despite the many challenges market participants face and the reduction in effective demand caused by collapsing livelihoods and weak purchasing power across southern Somalia." That's not quite the image these "world's worst" press releases send.
There are equally socially productive investments in everything from fisheries to natural resources to education in these regions. What is needed is proper analysis of the opportunities and risks so that investors can make intelligent decisions.
Those with an obsessive need to track terrorist incidents can go to the US government's global incident database and write their own press release.
There is no argument that parts of Southern Somalia are dangerous but a firm who prides themselves on being "conscious of the significant financial benefits that can be achieved through good monitoring of such risks and the seizing of relevant opportunities" should follow its own dictum.
You must register to download the report here.