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Security firms brace for brisk business after terrorist attack

A worker checks a CCTV camera
A worker checks a CCTV camera mounted on Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi in February 2017. Demand for CCTVs cameras has reportedly gone up following the terror attack. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The recent terrorist attack on the busy mixed-use DusitD2 business block along 14 Riverside, located in Nairobi’s commercial hub Westlands, has seen security for Kenyans and the wider business community take centre stage. The Tuesday attack left at least 21 people dead and scores injured.

And helping corporates and government agencies alike to increase their security systems at their installations, are companies operating in the security equipment space.

The market for products like surveillance systems, CCTVs, interception devices, explosive detectors, door frame metal detectors and access control systems has seen a surge in demand in the last few days, analysts and players in the sector said.

This trend they said is likely to persist as more business firms set aside hefty budgets for mitigating security and terror-related risks.

“So far, we have received some enquiries. We are especially anticipating increased demand in electronic security equipment. Existing clients have also approached us to discuss enhancing their security,” Securex chief executive Tony Sahni told the Sunday Nation.

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Mr Sahni said following the latest attack, businesses and firms had seen the need to complement physical manned security with technology to reap maximum benefit.

His views were echoed by other security firms. Analysts also tipped businesses to increase spending on security gadgets. Consequently, many firms are expected to make budget provisions for insurance against terrorism as well as hiring of new hands for improved surveillance, diverting funds from improving the core business but instead rising the cost of doing business.

“With security now an important aspect of Kenyan life, security companies are seeing a similar surge in interest,” said a senior executive of a Nairobi based security firm who sought anonymity saying his firm was in middle of closing several such multimillion deals next week and he was keen not to derail the deals by publicly talking about them.

"The number of calls we got last week probably tripled. I think what's happened since the unfortunate Riverside attack is that people better understand the need for security, especially in our society," he added.

The latest attack is seen as new blow to an economy already suffering from internal problems and could spell disaster for tourism.

Analysts are worried that the constant reminder of the attacks will heighten investors' concerns at a time when the Kenyan economy is slowing and foreign capital is being repatriated.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, however, moved to reassure Kenyans and the global community at large about their safety in the country.

“Throughout the breadth of Kenya and in our immediate neighbourhood, multiple security efforts are underway to detect, deter, disrupt and defeat any terrorist operative or group. We are on the highest alert, and shall remain so. I assure every Kenyan and foreign visitor that you are safe,” said the President, Wednesday.

Mr Deepak Dave, a risk management expert with Nairobi-based Riverside Capital, projected an uptick of development of terror-focused insurance products in the wake of the Riverside raid.

“They will be hugely expensive given reinsurance will be almost impossible until our general security situation is improved dramatically,” said Mr Dave. “The government will, however, need to play a big role to get the market off the ground.”

Security analysts said the changing nature of terrorism has impacted the world in many ways and warned that today, businesses need to understand the risk posed by terrorist attacks to their people, property and technology. The affected Riverside address hosts hospitality, media, retail and other businesses, including the high-end DusitD2 Hotel where international conferences were held.

“From sophisticated surveillance algorithms, highly-engineered security barriers disguised as public benches and significantly advanced online monitoring, the architects and implementers of protective security have undoubtedly made our lives safer,” said a senior security official who spoke anonymously so as to speak freely.

However, the security expert warned that even the most intuitive protective security measures can be overcome.

“Modern day terrorists are highly-innovative and spend a great deal of time doing research, identifying vulnerabilities and developing new ways of defeating counter-measures,” said the senior government official.

The official added that while the chance of getting caught up in a terrorist attack remains extremely low, businesses need to consider the safety of their employees as they go about their day-to-day business.

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