Africa emerging global K&R hotspot, accounting for 36% of incidents globally – NYA International

Source and Copyright: K&R Magazine

Worrying statistics recently released by specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy NYA International list Africa as accounting for 36% of kidnap and ransom incidents globally

Africa is new kidnap and ransom hotspot

Based on recent statistics released by specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy NYA International, Africa accounted for 36% of kidnap and ransom incidents globally, putting it well ahead of the Americas (27%) and Asia (19%).

In fact, kidnap for ransom has become something of a growth business in certain African countries, with Nigeria alone accounting for 26% of all global incidents in the first half of 2013. Other African countries where the practice is growing include Somalia, Egypt, Kenya and Mali.

NYA estimates that thousands of kidnappings take place in Nigeria annually – and the majority go unreported.

“We see this type of crime emerging in countries where there is both a big discrepancy between rich and poor in combination with an ineffective or corrupt police force,” says Jon Gregory, head of Kidnap and Ransom at AIG, the global insurance company.

South Africa is less of a hotspot, but even here the incidence of this type of crime is on the rise.

“According to SAPS statistics, kidnappings in South Africa were up 7,7% in period April 2011 to March 2012 compared to the previous year, with Gauteng accounting for 34% of all kidnappings in South Africa,” says AIG’s Financial Lines underwriter, Roxanne Moodley.

Now that Africa has become an important (and growing) investment destination, Gregory believes that corporates need to start mitigating this growing risk, particularly if they have employees active in risky countries.

“As part of their overall duty of care towards employees, companies need to have a plan in place to deal with this type of situation,” he says. “This is not the type of thing one wants to deal with on the fly.
“What one does in the first 24 hours is vital, so access to experienced crisis professionals is highly recommended. Ransom negotiations themselves are extremely complex and, of course, the money has to come from somewhere.”

NYA says it has experienced no fatalities in any incidents which it managed in 23 years of operation.

Gregory believes that companies need to see kidnap and ransom as part of their overall risk management strategy and make provision not only for help to resolve such an issue and pay any ransom, but also to cover business interruption caused by the absence of a key employee and loss of focus.

Another consideration is the possibility of civil suits by kidnapped executives or their families if they believe the company did not provide an adequate response.

He believes that only around 2% of all kidnap and ransom incidents are covered by insurance. By inference, then, the vast majority of all ransoms represent a loss for individuals or companies, not to mention the strain of conducting life-or-death negotiations over extended periods of time potentially without professional help.

“Kidnap and ransom policies are relatively inexpensive compared to other types of insurance a company would take out, and companies operating in certain regions must acknowledge they are at risk from third parties,” Gregory notes.

“Basic corporate governance means that this type of risk must be provided for – in all its ramifications. These include professional crisis response and negotiation, ransom payments, salary payments for the kidnapped person, business interruption and, of course, whatever post-trauma counselling and medical help is needed.”

Moodley says that awareness of the threat is the first step reducing risk.

“Keep a low profile in terms of your lifestyle and personal conduct,” she advises. “Make sure you have reasonable security in place at both home and work, and avoid slipping into predictable routines. We also advise people to be aware of what they communicate on social media about their lifestyle. You just can’t be too careful.”