Insurance markets in everything

by on December 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm in Economics | Permalink

Afghan shopkeeper Nasratullah Niazai has developed a brisk new business over the past year. For about $2 a pop, he uploads into customers’ cellphones a collection of Taliban songs and ringtones.

A skinny 22-year-old who operates a one-room computer store on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Mr. Niazai is no Taliban. Neither are most of his customers.

Instead, the songs and ringtones romanticizing the insurgents’ jihad against the infidel invaders serve as potentially lifesaving travel insurance for Kabulis who brave increasingly perilous countryside roads.

Sentries at improvised Taliban checkpoints, some only an hour’s drive away from central Kabul, routinely check travelers’ cellphones. As a result, government officials, police, soldiers, security guards, university students, translators for Western companies, construction workers and scores of others go to extraordinary lengths to scrub their phones of any evidence of links to the coalition and the Afghan government—and to masquerade as Taliban sympathizers.

Business has boomed in the past year, Mr. Niazai said. The songs that buyers like best, he said, are “the emotional ones sung by children with beautiful voices.”

The story is here and the pointer is from @nickschifrin.

1 Andreas Moser December 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I knew why I didn’t like cell phones.

2 Andreas Moser December 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Although having two of them might also help.
Once you hand one of them over to the checkpoint guy, he will hardly think you have a second one.

3 Dan December 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Why risk it?

4 Rahul December 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Wonder if this article’s publication changes Nasratullah Niazai’s life expectancy…..

5 ex-noodle December 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Shhh …
Don’t tell anyone.

6 Bill December 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Beware the Taliban terrorist who infiltrates Kabul with Lady Gaga as his ringtone.

7 ibuzone December 28, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I just want to say that’s the power of music: borderless and color-blind.

8 nyongesa December 29, 2011 at 2:26 am

………………………………………..government officials, police, soldiers, security guards……….go to extraordinary lengths to scrub their phones of any evidence of links to the coalition and the Afghan government…………………………………

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