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  • Alison Hall

How Alcis Research Team Unveiled the Scale of Afghanistan’s Undeclared Economy

‘Geospatial’ is not about surveyors but users, not about imagery but integration, not about data but knowledge. And geospatial knowledge is what Alcis delivers.

This is what John Kedar says in his Geospatial World article about the geospatial analysis of trade routes and choke points revealing how the Taliban funded its 20-year-long insurgency before storming back to power, culminating in the capture of the capital, Kabul, on August 15.

It is a fascinating article, highlighting the significant findings from two reports, which were researched and written by David Mansfield and Graeme Smith, with geospatial analysis by Alcis.

The article talks about how the reports challenged conventional economic thinking; in some cases, turned it on its head. For example, cross-border export of talc was estimated by the research team at twice the official figures (in volume), while other minerals were significantly under-reported. Fuel imported from Iran was estimated at two and a half times the official figure. A significant undeclared smuggling trade sees transit goods re-exported from Afghanistan into Pakistan over rugged mountain passes. Check points along the trade routes, whether manned by corrupt government officials or the Taliban, took a cut on the value of the goods based on the weight and volume of the cargo. This kind of unofficial taxation helped in funding the insurgency and reduced Afghanistan government’s official revenues.

Read the full article at Geospatial World


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