Thinking about outstanding security in Kenya: what are the barriers to making further improvements?

Chair: Martin Gill

Captain (Rtd) Augustine Lokwang Ekitela – Association of Corporate and Industrial Security Management Professionals (ACISMP)
Purity Kinanu, CPP – Women In Safety Excellence (WISE)
Munene M. Mugambi – Professional Criminologists Association of Kenya (PCAK)
Charles Oloo CPP – Industry Representative

Key points

Augustine Ekitela notes that Kenya has made significant progress towards professionalisation for several reasons including: the pandemic generating opportunities for stakeholders to discuss ways of working collaboratively and specifically working closely with the regulator not least to build capacity. That said, the pandemic has disrupted the roadmap to regulation in other ways, Augustine calls for an open dialogue on the issues. The challenge, as is so often the case, is companies thinking of short-term profits rather than a good service generating long term business. As crime patterns have changed so there has been a greater appreciation of good security that has had to be innovative, albeit many companies were stuck in old ways and failed to adjust. Security is still a last choice career for many people and that will only change with a dedicated focus and investment on promoting good security practice across the board. Security associations have a key role to play here.

Purity Kinanu notes that the security sector has shown resilience during the pandemic against a background where there has been a general appreciation of the need for solutions to serious and pressing problems. Some sectors have carried on regardless of adversity but others like hospitality have been severely compromised. Up skilling and reskilling have taken place, organisations have had to invest in technology. An on-going challenge is for security companies to align with the new needs of working life such as people working from home, that crime has moved on line, that domestic violence is a potentially a work place issue. Although security is a second choice career, it is changing. Employers and the regulators have a key role to play here, but trainers too must think about approaches that engage young people. Moreover, we need to present the opportunities for young people as case studies (of which perhaps the Outstanding Young Security Professional at the Kenya OSPAs is a case in point) and we need to promote mentorship. You will hear and see Purity discuss mental health and the need to support security staff and she calls on security associations to take a lead.

Charles Oloo notes that providing security is a challenge, it is a pivotal activity and always important, albeit not always seen that way. Security is having to adjust, traditional risks but have been reset since the pandemic and the sector is learning all over again. There are many new entrants to the market and in such circumstances regulation then becomes key, consumers need protecting and regulation is core to professionalism although on this point he calls for more evidence of progress. Partnerships with state agencies are key, sharing information and intelligence, agreeing ways on how to jointly respond, there are many ways but they need developmental work. Technology is now more familiar to the sector, but it is a doubled edged sword, it facilitates many good and bad things, on the positive side it empowers those offering security solutions. Charles also highlights the importance of security associations coming together, and you will hear him highlight the befits that can accrue from a security congress.

Kenya, like all countries, has had to adapt to the pandemic. Regulation, typically a key process to professionalism, is still evolving. It has been disrupted in some senses but in different ways given impetus. All the panellists highlighted different routes to progress. Amongst other things Augustine notes how the pandemic has heightened interest in security providing a base to build but it is still too often a second choice or last choice career, Purity underlines the importance of engaging young people and focussing on mental health, Charles on the intriguing concept of a security congress. We will revisit Kenya in the future, let’s hope the seeds of progress can grow on more fertile ground in a post covid world.

Following the Thought Leadership panel discussion, winners of the Kenya OSPAs are announced virtually in collaboration with Securexpo East Africa

Martin Gill
26th August 2021

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