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Safety: a growing concern for business travel in Africa
As economic growth on the African continent accelerates, the number of South African businesses expanding their operations into the rest of the region grows steadily.
However, as the continent is relatively new to international business relations, the potential risks associated with travelling to certain countries needs to be considered by businesses to ensure that both their businesses, and its personnel, have the necessary risk management measures in place before embarking on such business trips.
This is according to Annelie Smith, Corporate Executive at Risk Benefit Solutions (RBS), an independent insurance and risk specialist, who says that moving into certain African regions may increase both the business’s and the employees’ risk profile.
“From an employee travel point of view, it is becoming increasingly important that businesses are looking after the needs and safety of their employees when sending them into potentially dangerous areas.”
She points to figures published in the Global Kidnap for Ransom Update – April 2014 interim report, issued by crisis prevention and response consultancy NYA International, which reported that Nigeria accounted for 23% of global kidnap and ransom incidents in the first half of 2013.
Smith therefore advises that potential incidents, such as kidnap and ransom, should be seriously considered and be a key area of concern for businesses travelling in regions marked as high risk within Africa and the rest of the world..
“Having a Kidnap and Ransom (K&R) policy in place enables a business to mitigate the potential losses associated with these threats. In addition, should a kidnapping or extortion incident occur, a business that has taken the necessary precautionary measures in advance, may be better positioned to control and contain the incident, thereby further enabling the safe return of their employee.”
Smith adds that in light of the increase in kidnap and ransom incidents occurring, policies have also had to evolve and include various extensions to ensure security, such as travel tracking. “Extensions such as travel tracking provide companies with specific cover and allow businesses to physically track their employees during their trip, which is necessary when they are travelling in developmental areas such as Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and other similar regions globally.”
Other aspects for businesses to consider include medical and accident cover. “Similar to leisure travel, corporate travelers also require medical cover. When travelling on business there is an expectation from staff that your company will provide certain levels of cover should you be injured. “Businesses also need to be aware of possible legislative rules that could affect such policies and medical aids in certain countries, especially if their personnel are relocated to countries on an ex-pat basis.”
Smith says that this raises the importance of ensuring that the correct risk management policies and procedures are in place even in respect of staff, who can be seen as the most important asset of a business.