Last year, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb did something no other modern terrorist group has: conquered a broad swath of a sovereign country—Mali. Since then, despite French intervention, northern Mali has become a jihadist front, with Islamist militants flowing in from around the world.
Urban slums worldwide will soon reach a tipping point, with young people rejecting the lives that they have been offered. Their power lies in their numbers – more than half of the world’s youth shares their fate – and in their anger. They will rise up, refusing to accept their status as second-class citizens of ever-expanding urban settlements, and they will destabilize countries like Kenya, undermining efforts to build more stable, prosperous societies.
In the eyes of the rest of the world, war-torn Afghanistan is a place with a beaten-down infrastructure, the minimum of modern amenities and certainly none of the services made possible by the latest technological advances powering the Internet, financial services and telecommunications. Surprisingly, however, Afghanistan is on the leading edge of the mobile-money and banking revolution sweeping through developing countries from Kenya to Indonesia.