Private Security Companies in Kenya and The Impact of Chinese Actors

Image: Flickr, Jens Schott Knudsen
Image: Flickr, Jens Schott Knudsen

Without the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) protection overseas, who should provide security for Chinese companies and citizens? How do host countries and private actors contribute to public security in Africa?

Are current business models among Chinese private security companies (PSCs) sustainable, and to what extent have Chinese actors penetrated the local market? This policy brief examines the development and impact of Chinese PSCs in Kenya. Summarizing field interviews with different stakeholders, the analysis focuses on the legal, policy, governance, and oversight issues that private contracting raises in both China and Kenya. Compared with the unprecedented pace of growth in China’s investment in Africa, Chinese engagement in overseas security protection is far behind other sectors. Lack of market share is due to fierce competition among PSCs and Chinese investors’ ignorance about security needs. While Western PSCs’ sophisticated security solutions have squeezed Chinese PSCs out of the market, the low awareness on behalf of Chinese investors (both state-owned and private-owned) has led their security budgets to dry up quickly. Besides a trade and investment presence in Africa, Chinese policymakers should develop a more integral regulatory framework emphasizing a systemic guarantee of security management and emergency response processes.

1 Jan 2021