Kenyan Private security companies fret over licensing

A tug of war is looming in the private security sector in Kenya with the scheduled publication of all licensed companies by the end of July. The government, through the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PRSA), in December 2019 announced plans to undertake fresh vetting and licensing of all private security providers.

The companies, however, protested and petitioned various arms of government including Parliament where they managed to put the vetting on hold. But in a confidential memo, PSRA Chief Executive Fazul Mohamed has now directed all heads of departments and the vetting committee to submit “any and all pending vetting reports” to his office for compilation.

“In addition, you are required to compile and submit the list of all private security companies alongside the names of the directors and senior management who have not undergone statutory security training,” reads the memo dated July 5, 2021.

Private Security Industry Association Chairman Cosmas Mutava expressed surprise about the new development and wondered when the vetting and training of managers was done.
“I am not aware of any plans to publish and gazette the companies,” he said. “We have so many discussions and even engagements going on including the criteria of vetting, the purported training and curriculum to be adopted.”

In March 2020, the private security companies got a reprieve after activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court to stop the vetting, questioning the timing and public participation in the process. The case is ongoing at the High Court. Justice Anthony Mrima also issued conservatory orders on March 10, 2021, restraining PSRA from issuing letters purporting to be certificates of registration pending the hearing and determination of the case.

According to the government’s plan, the vetting was to take three months until March 31, 2020. Private security providers were supposed to submit their registration certificates, identification documents, Kenya Revenue Authority PINs and certificates of good conduct for each of their directors, partners, trustees, and shareholders