KABUL — The recent spate of violence shouldn’t be allowed to detract from the real story here: Afghanistan’s booming economy. Frightened by exaggerated scare stories, American and other Western companies are missing out on lucrative investment opportunities grasped by ostensibly less sophisticated Afghan and regional players.
There’s no shortage of profit to be made in an economy that grew 14% in the 12 months to March 21, and is expected to expand by a similar amount in the current financial year. In Kabul alone the number of cars and taxis has increased by one-third since last year to 400,000, up from fewer than 1,000 under the Taliban. Large sections of the city boast three- and four-storey buildings where mud brick houses stood only a few years ago, and twin 17- and 20-storey towers are currently under construction in Herat.