Sub-Saharan Africa Terrorism Risk Update

23 May 2019

Sub Saharan Africa Terrorism Risk Update Islamist extremism remains potent in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with West Africa and the Sahel particularly affected. The last three years have seen a significant decline in total terrorism-related deaths per year in SSA, mainly due to the decrease in activity of Nigeria-based Boko Haram.

The G5 Sahel security alliance has reclaimed significant territory from Boko Haram, but the group retains influence throughout the Lake Chad basin.

Porous borders in West Africa and the Sahel continue to hamper regional efforts to combat terrorism threats, as terrorist groups seek to destabilize the entire region.

Loss of territory in the Middle East will also drive a pivot towards SSA by IS and al-Qaida.

There is a strong likelihood of organizations such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) pooling resources with splinter groups and militias, particularly in Somalia, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and northern Mali.

This means that individuals and businesses remain exposed to attacks, including IEDs, shootings, and kidnappings.

Al-Qaida-affiliated Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) remains a significant threat across the Sahel.

The group is shifting its target set to national and international government assets, away from soft targets. French companies will likely remain particularly exposed across the region.

Key Terrorist actors in 2019

Al-Qaida In Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

Boko Haram

Ansar al Islam


Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM)

Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

Which Sectors Are Most Exposed?


Islamist extremism is a risk to firms operating in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Nigeria. Mali accounts for 75% of all terrorist incidents across the Sahel region since 2015.

While mines in southwest Mali are relatively sheltered from direct attacks, porous land borders contribute to an underlying risk.

Mali-based militants are also active in Burkina Faso, where mining sector employees have become a principal target for kidnappings.

Retail and hospitality

Soft targets such as hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants remain attractive targets for terrorist actors across SSA, given the concentration of foreign nationals in these locations.

Attacks are likely to include the use of IEDs and firearms.

Recent major incidents include attacks on a shopping complex in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013; a hotel in Bamako, Mali, in 2015; and a complex in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2019.

Sub Saharan Africa Terrorism Risk Update



  • Raj RanaRaj Rana

    Raj started her career as an account technician in the back office of the newly merged Heath Lambert in July 2000.

    In September 2001 she relocated to the Head Office in London as an Account Handler in the international Property Division specialising in Terrorism and War.

    In the last 15 years Raj took over the running of the War and Terrorism Portfolio and has since built up a significant international portfolio of business delivering bespoke insurance and reinsurance placement solutions. She has an in-depth technical knowledge of market wordings and is also experienced in tailoring wordings to complement existing insurance arrangements whether this be local pool coverage or integrating with all risks covers.

    She has extensive experience in working with a varied client base including power, infrastructure, energy, retail, manufacturing, hotel and leisure, aviation, finance and public sector businesses. She joined JLT on 1st February 2016 as Head of War and Terrorism.

    For further information or to learn more about terrorism insurance, contact Raj Rana, Head of War and Terrorism on +44 020 3797 7732.

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