SA Business Warned to Plan Appropriately for Travel to Nigeria

Having the largest economy on the African continent, Nigeria is rapidly becoming a popular destination for some of our country’s – and the world’s – top organisations. With high profile business representatives and executives planning for travel across the continent in 2017, leading protective and risk consulting firm, Arcfyre Group, shed some light on precautions for business travel to Nigeria.

Doing your research is important and while internal staff are able to book hotels and organise logistics for business trips, planning is crucial before embarking on travel to a country where terrorism is rife.

Educating travelling employees and preparing them for crisis management should the need arise, is imperative and is a “Duty of Care” no company can afford to overlook. It is important to track employee’s whereabouts whilst travelling and the employee in turn needs full knowledge of the communication policies and procedures to be followed, should they land in a compromising situation. Avoidance is always best in an ideal world, but knowledge is power when travelling in high risk areas.

Arcfyre Group CEO, Jared Higgins says, “Nigeria is still one of the top five countries effected by terrorism in the world. With high levels of poverty, corruption and an imaginary border between Christianity and Islam, terrorist groups have exploited the opportunities related to people’s desperation and need for a purpose.”

“Terrorist activities are related to both conflict on religious grounds and conflict in terms of land. There are two main terrorist groups active in Nigeria – Boko Haram whose terrorist practices are fuelled by religious ideals; and, The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who have been known to target corporations, foreign businesses and refineries with the aim of communicating the need for land and resource profits to be shared with the people,” he explains.

The recently released 2016 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) – published by the Institute for Economics and Peace – uncovers that whilst there has been a 10% decrease in the number of deaths attributed to terrorist incidents in the last year, most likely because of increased military interventions, the overall score on this year’s index has deteriorated by 6%. The overall deterioration is attributed to the growing levels of terrorism in many more countries worldwide.

The report suggests that core areas of ISIS and Boko Haram activity – namely Iraq and Nigeria – have experienced a 32% reduction in deaths but the reach of the terrorist groups continues to spread.

Higgins says, “With that in mind, we would advise business travellers and tourists to take extra precaution when travelling in and around Nigeria. Planning needs to take place ahead of any – and every – journey out of a hotel or office where security is less likely to be present.”

“Simply renting a car is not recommended and when a driver is provided, it is essential to ensure that they are properly trained, vetted and have experience in dealing with local police officials and inherently aggressive driving styles. Trained drivers should also know the laws and customs and should have a track record verifying their ability to respond to potentially dangerous situations,” he adds.

Higgins highlights that businesses are legally obliged to ensure that precautionary planning is done or provided for through a reputable provider when travelling to high risk countries.

It is definitely worth talking to professionals and taking the time to ensure employees – who are at the centre of an organisation – are safe,” he concludes.