The latest Terrorism and Political Violence Map for 2011 released by Aon Risk Solutions has revealed a significant increase in political violence risk on the African continent. The map, which acts as a gauge for the intensity of terrorism and political risk to international business in each country, has named Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya, among others in Africa, as countries with the most severe risk levels in the world.

According to the map, South Africa’s country level risk is rated as medium, on par with countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Cambodia.
Nico Bianco, executive head of risk consulting at Aon South Africa, says that South African businesses that have commercial interests in Africa need to be vigilant of this increase in political risks.
“The map integrates an increase in risks that are not only exclusive to terrorism,” says Bianco. “Businesses are equally faced with threats to their sustainability, business continuity and future growth from political violence, strikes, riots and civil war. In this regard, coup risk and rebellions in Africa reflect a continent that presents a significant political violence risk.”
Bianco says the map highlights the need for businesses to be well informed of the current trends developing rapidly across the world in order to protect their business interests.
“The reality of the situation is that threats to commercial success exist in a variety of forms and the updated map seeks not to undermine the incidence or severity of terrorist threats, but to promote a more holistic approach to risk management services in Africa.”
He says companies should develop contingency plans to avert the possibility of suffering a discontinuation of business operations by identifying the threats they face and implement a comprehensive risk management program to protect their employees, physical assets and profitability.
Bianco advises that South African companies with commercial interests abroad should adhere to the following guidelines:
* Conduct risk management audits via a reputable risk management provider;
* Keep abreast of the socio-political sphere of the country of interest;
* Make use of accurate and up-to-date country risk analysis reports;
* Develop and regularly update a business continuity process;
* Implement a check-in service with a designated local contact to provide ‘on-the-ground’ situational updates for satellite offices potentially at risk;
* Implement an escalation process using local personnel and/or associates if employees becomes unreachable during elevated risk situations;
* Provide risk management training seminars with employees based in high risk countries.
Bianco says each business will have different requirements when it comes to risk management and should seek professional advice. “Risk management programmes will involve a mix of both insurance and risk mitigation measures such as implementing and educating staff on personal security policies; improving security of physical assets such as buildings and other infrastructure, and ensuring comprehensive response procedures are in place to deal with low-frequency, but high-impact events.”