Five anticipated risks to prepare for in 2024


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ISJ hears from George Mochengo, Certified Security Management Professional (CSMP) and Member of the International Security Management Institute (ISMI).

The African continent welcomed 2023, reeling from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, whose risk was managed to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) through the strengthening of public health systems by most governments on the continent.

Although the pangs of COVID-19 gradually dissipated as we further entered 2023, the continent was conflicted with the Russia-Ukraine war, which gained momentum and affected the socio-economic stability of many countries.

The pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war show that we are not immune from crises and that risks can strike at any time and in any form.

However, the severity of these crises has taught us an important lesson: Future risks must at least be anticipated.

With this hindsight, in 2024, we anticipate the following five risks: Geopolitical risks; cyber-risks; data privacy and challenges in identity access management; terrorism and climate risk arising from extreme weather conditions.

Five risks

Geopolitical risks – the prolonged Russia-Ukraine war, the current conflict in Gaza and several coups experienced in western Africa, notably in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, will contribute to prolonged instability in the continent.

With the US and Western powers concerned about the safety of their citizens in the volatile regions of the continent, political risk will slowly but prominently gain a strong position in the boardroom in 2024.

Organisations will definitely be more concerned about travel risks and the protection of at-risk personnel.

Cyber-risks – there has been a rapid digital development and uptake of mobile banking on the continent and, as a result, the probability of bad events happening to information systems has increased, leading to a loss of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.

A major risk is cyber-attacks targeting financial institutions’ organisational data, leading to massive losses.

In 2023, several banks and other financial institutions suffered cyber-attacks and this trend is projected to increase in the coming year.

Consequently, there has been a flurry of activity in hardening financial institutions’ information technology infrastructure and in recruiting cybersecurity experts to bolster their response.

However, the dire shortage of cybersecurity professionals exacerbates the problem. 

Data protection and identity access risks – in this information age, in which every economic sphere is centred on information technology, data is king.

Unfortunately, although there are efforts in some countries to legislate and regulate data protection, there is little uptake on this.

As a result, risks would materialise in the event of data breaches involving international transfers, especially for international companies operating on the continent, leading to compensation demands and reputational risks.

Terrorism and climate risk – risks involving severe weather conditions leading to catastrophic flooding, especially in the southern part of the continent, will continue to be major risks.

Finally, predicting and anticipating these risks implies that appropriate counter-measures should be taken to minimise the risks.

Understanding that security is everyone’s responsibility and the biggest vulnerability in any security setup is people, emphasis should be placed on security awareness, training and capacity building.

George Mochengo

George Mochengo is a Certified Security Management Professional (CSMP) and a Member of the International Security Management Institute (ISMI) with a solid technical background in physical, corporate and private security.

His forte is security risk analysis (SRA), where he assists organisations in designing, evaluating and surveying their security risk management systems.

He is the Operations Manager for Kenwatch Security Services based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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