Brian Howell, MA

MA Thesis

The Price of Insecurity: The Growth and Impact of Private Security Firms in Africa

This analysis investigates the growth and regulation of the private security industry in Africa; along with the positive and negative impacts that security firms have upon state institutions, local security forces, and civilians within the localities they are active in. Structurally I offer a historical analysis of past mercenary activity in Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone which is contrasted with current private security activity and regulation of the industry in the region. This analysis concludes that the increased role of private security firms has challenged the state's traditional monopoly on force, while also creating potential state dependency upon private security providers. Furthermore the negligent conduct of mercenaries in previous regional conflicts along with the actions of current operators has created a negative perception of the private security industry, thus limiting the industry's regional effectiveness. The ability of private security firms to erase this perception through industry regulation and responsible conduct is limited, as current regulation lacks the commitment needed to empower those individuals negatively impacted by the growth of the private sector.