12 capital cities face ‘extreme’ terrorism risks

Abuja, Cairo, Nairobi and Islamabad

Terrorist attacks pose an ‘extreme risk’ to populations and business in the capital cities of 12 countries, including in the strategic markets of Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan, according to new research, which assesses 1300 of the world’s most important commercial hubs and urban centres.

In total, 64 cities are categorised as ‘extreme risk’ in our new Global Alerts Dashboard (GAD), an online mapping and data portal that logs and analyses every reported terrorism incident down to levels of 100m² worldwide. Based on the intensity and frequency of attacks in the 12 months following February 2014, combined with the number and severity of incidents in the previous five years, six cities in Iraq top the ranking. Over this period, the country’s capital, Baghdad, suffered 380 terrorist attacks resulting in 1141 deaths and 3654 wounded, making it the world’s highest risk urban centre, followed by Mosul, Al Ramadi, Ba’qubah, Kirkuk and Al Hillah.

Outside of Iraq, other capital cities rated ‘extreme risk’ include Kabul, Afghanistan (13th most at risk), Mogadishu, Somalia (14th), Sana’a, Yemen (19th) and Tripoli, Libya (48th). However, with investment limited in conflict and post-conflict locations, it is the risk posed by terrorism in the primary cities of strategic economies, such as Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan that has the potential to threaten business and supply chain continuity.

"An estimated 80% of global GDP is generated from cities. Visibility of the sub-national differences in terrorism levels should be an imperative for multinational organisations looking to understand and price the risks to assets, employees and supply chains.”

Charlotte Ingham, Principal Analyst 

Islamic insurgencies drive risk in commercial centres of East and West Africa

As Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria’s role as a commercial hub is central to economic growth across the region. However, due to the activities of Islamist group Boko Haram and a surge in violence in the lead up to the March election, 13 out of the 24 Nigerian cities included in the assessment experienced a significant increase in the intensity and frequency of terrorist attacks compared to the previous quarter. The risk level in Abuja (18th), Nigeria’s capital, has remained consistent, but it is rated among the top 2% of GAD’s most at risk cities. Over the reporting period, Abuja suffered four attacks which resulted in 117 deaths.

While Boko Haram will remain the dominant terrorist threat in Nigeria, we believe there is a possibility of hostilities resuming in the Niger Delta following the election of Mohammed Buhari. The amnesty protecting members of the militant group MEND is due to lapse and without successful negotiations this could mean disruption to the country’s vital oil industry, in addition to attacks on key cities in the south east of the country.

The only other sub-Saharan capital to appear in the ‘extreme risk’ category is Nairobi (57th), East Africa’s prime commercial centre, which has witnessed an upsurge in attacks by Islamist militant group al Shabaab. Over the reporting period 184 people have been killed or wounded in Nairobi in six attacks. The impact of terrorism on the country’s main commercial hubs of Nairobi and Mombasa (82nd) has been particularly harmful to investor confidence. In addition, the tourist trade has declined by 7.4% costing the country an estimated US$73 million.

Paris attack reflects risks across key European cities

Paris (97th and ‘high risk’) has experienced one of the steepest rises in the ranking, reflecting the severity of the terrorist attack in January 2015 that left 17 people dead. The risk level in Paris is representative of a wider trend for Western countries, including Belgium, Canada and Australia, where the level of risk in key urban centres is substantially higher than elsewhere in the country, in part due to the significant PR value attached to such high profile targets by militant Islamist groups.

This contrasts sharply with a number of developing economies, including Nigeria, Thailand, Philippines, Colombia and India, where the risk of terrorist attacks is highest in rural areas. This also remains the case in Egypt where large-scale attacks remain focused in the Sinai Peninsula. However, our data reflects increased risks in the country’s two main commercial centres, Cairo (45th and ‘extreme risk’) and Alexandria (76th and ‘high risk’), the latter of which has moved from ‘medium’ to ‘high risk’ over the last quarter.

Global Alerts Dashboard

Acts of violence against corporate assets and employees, corporate reputation allegations and natural hazards have the capacity to paralyse company operations, supply chains and distribution networks, incurring costs. Building on 8 years of data, we have developed the new interactive Global Alerts Dashboard. It offers monitoring and alerts covering key operational and supply chain disruptions via a mapping and data platform. This gives you time sensitive, qualified alerts allowing you to identify and prioritise the sites that pose the highest risk of supply chain disruption or potential damage to corporate reputation