Private security business on the road to recovery following the easing of COVID- 19 lockdown restrictions

SGA Security guard Ishmael Mogire uses an automatic refillable hand sanitizer as a preventive measure from coronavirus infections.

The easing of lockdown and curfew measures by governments in East Africa has breathed some life into business sectors that almost ground to a halt since the COVID pandemic restrictions were put into place in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. One of those sectors is the private security industry.

In Kenya, the private security sector is one of the biggest employers in the country employing an estimated 700,000 people serving more than 2,000 firms and many more private homes across the nation.

According to SGA Security Chief Executive and Chairman Julius Delahaije, the COVID- 19 pandemic saw some of their customers in Kenya and Uganda close down operations following the curfew and lockdown imposed between March and June. Although not as badly affected as Kenya and Uganda, private security companies in Tanzania also witnessed a slowdown in business.

 “Our clients in the tourism and hospitality sector were hard hit by the pandemic forcing them to close down their businesses. With low or no activity, they did not require private security services hence hurting our business prospects,” said Delahaije.

In Uganda, SGA’s rife courier business, which had been recording month-on-month growth suffered a big hit during the three months of lockdown with a 100 percent downtime as only essential food and medicine courier services were allowed to operate.

“We usually conduct cash-in-transit management but with COVID-19 and the introduction of a cashless transfer system, business was relatively low. Some bank branches that we serve also closed down hurting our deployment of staff and guarding services,” he said.

Ironically, the lockdowns and travel restrictions led to an increase of criminal activities that would ordinarily require the beefing up of security across the board.

Since the partial opening of Kenya’s economy on July 6th, SGA Security has bounced back to full-service delivery across all sectors albeit on a ‘new normal’ arrangement where their staff regularly used sanitisers, maintain social distance and had masks all the time they were on duty. Technicians at their 24-hour control room also have to work in alternate shifts to minimize contact.

Mr Delahaije, who boasts of over two decades experience in cybersecurity, said Kenya must promote adoption of technology-based security solutions to reduce physical interactions at entry points, limit the number of people with banking halls as well as malls and enable digital monitoring of social distancing.

“We have access control digital devices that automatically open doors, thermal cameras and intelligent cameras that can alert you in the instance people fail to maintain accepted social distancing as recommended in public spaces such as supermarkets, malls and banks,” he said.

The CEO added that companies must also adopt use of security Apps for face recognition, biometrics as well as CCTV cameras within premises that reduce use of staff for various roles.

“The digital future is here and all must adopt technology for various uses where online platforms will be used for operational processes to reduce use of papers and human interactions,” concluded Delahaije.