While the increase in incidents of terrorism over the past 10 years has fueled the growth of private security activities in the country, the rapidly growing real estate sector has also played a major role.
According to industry players, the government’s huge infrastructure projects, paired with affordable housing programs, have provided the right environment to achieve growth in this sector.
The Affordable Housing Project is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s four major programs that aims to add more than 500,000 housing units to the market.
And as the government has provided an enabling environment for developers to contribute to this agenda, the market has opened up for private security companies.
âI have seen a lot of construction during this regime (of President Uhuru Kenyatta), which is evident as the demand for private security has increased,â said Isaac Andabwa, general secretary of the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union.
Andabwa said the increase has increased the demand for cadets and guards who manage strategic buildings, shopping malls and government institutions. âWhen there is an increase in construction and real estate, obviously the demand for security also increases,â he said.
Kenya’s plan is to supply at least 200,000 units per year to fill a shortage of two million units and reach 500,000 units by the end of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime next year.
Developers of these homes usually use security companies to provide guards and other solutions to attract more tenants and buyers. It adds value to the property.
Erick Owaga, Security Manager Security 24, while acknowledging that the growth in real estate has had a positive impact on the private security sector, said the business environment was also saturated.
âThere are so many security companies, so the cost factor always comes into play,â Owaga said. His company was one of the exhibitors at the recent Kenya Homes Expo held in Nairobi.
He said the business is not as profitable as it used to be due to the proliferation of security companies. âIt means you have to offer your services at a reasonable cost, especially today. You might have to go below reasonable costs to stay in business because of what others are offering, âhe said.
He says bid prices for security services between new entrants in the market and those who have been on the scene for some time show disparities, as newer ones tend to offer at a lower cost.
âThis now makes the industry very competitive, especially in terms of cost. He needs to be very moderate and accommodating to the client, âsaid Owaga.
âYou may not get a lot, but you do it because you want to stay in the market. The more guards you sell, the more profit you will make, but this may not be the case because the more you have, the more incidents you register.
This means that premiums on insurance coverage on contractual agreements with developers and employees (guards) will rise amid tight profits.
âAt the end of the day, the industry is not doing so well right now,â he said.
Owaga noted that developers are their main clientele, as individuals who build their own homes tend to assess their own security and design their own ways to combat threats.
âIndividuals can analyze their own security situations and you can know what to avoid and a few things to get involved in, but for real estate developers you have to have one because you will have clients as tenants or buyers, so you have to integrate security, “he said.
Mr. Owaga observed that most customers prefer guards over other tech-related security aids and gadgets such as electric fences and CCTV cameras.
âBut you have to integrate cameras so that other people can detect on your behalf and take action,â he said.
He said the insecure goal is to deter, detect and prevent that requires the physical presence of a guard, even when other technological gadgets can be used to supplement.