The Afghan Economy in Numbers

  • Time since the West has been present and active in Afghanistan: 10 years

And what have we achieved?

  • GDP per capita (2010): 900 $
  • Unemployment: 35 %
  • Average hourly wage for graduates (2010): 0.56 $
  • proportion of the economy that is due to the opium trade: about a third

    “My business is blooming.”

The government finances aren’t in any better state:

  • budget deficit without international aid: 70 %
  • taxes and other revenues: 6.2 % of GDP

And now the most dangerous numbers of all:

  • part of the GDP that is due to international aid or the military of foreign nations: 97 %
  • year in which NATO military will leave Afghanistan: 2014

While the withdrawal of Western forces will not automatically mean the withdrawal of developmental aid, I predict that most foreign aid agencies will leave soon thereafter as their staff will get kidnapped, attacked and killed in larger numbers. We can of course still transfer money to the Afghan government, but the record of the past 10 years doesn’t make me optimistic about the sensible use of this money by President Karzai’s government or whoever will be in power after ISAF will leave.

The current massive spending by international aid agencies and foreign military certainly crowds out some local spending and investment that might otherwise happen, but the hypothetical GDP per capita without foreign aid is nonetheless a shocking number to keep in mind: 27 $ per year.

Sorry Afghanistan, but I really can’t be optimistic about your future; try as I might.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Economics, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Afghan Economy in Numbers

  1. John Erickson says:

    And now you know why my most asked question (after why, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms) is, “Where the heck are the combat engineers?”. We should’ve had people in there building infrastructure, no later than 2006. We (that’s a NATO “we”) would have easier supply lines, better living conditions for the troops AND citizens, and a heck of a lot of good will built up.
    Problems? Sure, including giving the terrorists/freedom fighters access to better roads, electricity, and plumbing. But I suspect there might ne a LOT fewer terrorists AND roadside IEDs lying around if we HAD improved the Afghanis’ lots in life.
    But what the heck do I know? I’ve only studied military history for 40 years…….

    • This is the 1.000th comment on my blog. (Overall, not by you alone.) Thanks a lot for participating in the debates that I try to spark!

      • John Erickson says:

        Outstanding! Maybe I’ll surrender to pressure, and let you be MY first comment! ;)

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