- 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
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.