Last week I was delighted to take part in a National Leadership Forum on security as a private-sector representative.
The ensuing discussion made it clear that Kenyans understand national security not as the singular responsibility of the government. Other actors — including the private sector — have crucial roles to play.
Since government has the primary mandate of securing the citizens, it’s understandable that it’s the centre of focus when our security is under threat. However, addressing the challenge of insecurity cannot be left to the government alone.
Unfortunately, the role the private sector, and indeed all citizens, play in addressing current threats to security seems to be grossly understated.
This is something we must address urgently, particularly because the terrorist threat to Kenyans remains.
I wish to highlight four ways in which corporates can contribute to enhancing national security.
First, the private sector can play a crucial role in disrupting terrorism financing, thereby terrorist organisations.
Financial institutions, such as banks and mobile money companies, can make it harder for terrorist groups to access finances through enforcement of robust anti-money laundering procedures.
Recognising this critical responsibility, Safaricom has put in place vigorous mechanisms to ensure we detect and halt the flow of terrorist funds.
We have invested in a round-the-clock electronic monitoring system that vets all M-Pesa transactions for money laundering, fraud or terrorism-related activities. Any suspicious transactions are immediately flagged and reported to the relevant authorities.
M-Pesa agents are constantly trained to recognise and combat money laundering and to report any suspicious incidents. We are also in the process of rolling out fake currency detectors at all our M-Pesa agent outlets.
But this war cannot be won by one organisation. We, therefore, have established a mobile money fraud reduction forum that includes all our corporate customers from the financial sector to address these issues at a sectoral level.
Secondly, it’s now well understood that radicalisation is driven by political and socio-economic factors such as marginalisation and youth unemployment.
Hence, corporates can help counter radicalisation by addressing some of these drivers of radicalisation through job creation.
Jobs make it easier for young people to earn a livelihood, thereby discouraging criminal ventures and mindsets, including terrorism.
This impact would be significantly amplified if more corporates adopted sustainable business approaches.
Third, the private sector is the first line of defence in cyberterrorism. At present, CNBC estimates the global cost of cybercrime to be about $600 billion (Sh60 trillion or 0.8 per cent of global GDP).
Unfortunately, cybersecurity threats are relegated in the current security efforts. Global experience has shown that corporates are often the first victims of cyberattacks.
As a result, many of them have established mechanisms for responding to such threats, learning critical lessons along the way.
The efforts that companies have implemented to protect clients and their own systems from attack would be good starting points along which the government can structure its own responses.
Finally, private sector players can contribute significantly to the surveillance efforts.
Private sector organisations have independently installed surveillance cameras in their properties that can also provide crucial data for the security agencies.
It’s possible for the surveillance data from these installations to be integrated into a national surveillance system.
This would make it easier for the security agencies to fight crime more effectively.
The private sector is a crucial partner to the government in preventing and detecting crime from occurring in the first place, and it’s prudent for the government and other security actors to incorporate the views and efforts of this segment in the design and implementation of security policies.
Nicholas Mulila is the chief corporate security officer at Safaricom.