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Business Continuity Institute breaks through African borders

African countries are getting more serious about business continuity management (BCM) if the recent membership figures of the UK-based Business Continuity Institute (BCI) are to be used as an indicator.

The BCI was established in 1994 to enable individual members to obtain guidance and support from fellow business continuity practitioners. It currently has more than 6 500 members in over 100 different countries.

Through its Certification Scheme, the Institute provides internationally recognised status to its members, as professional membership of the BCI demonstrates the members' competence to carry out BCM to a consistent high standard.

In 2005, the first South African BCI Forum was launched with a handful of members spread across Africa. The launch was not only the first in southern Africa, but also in Africa. Constitutionally, a BCI Forum is a voluntary interest group with no regulatory mandate or financial responsibility, which follows certain terms of reference to align with the BCI. As at the end of January this year, Africa has approximately 488 BCI members, of which 133 are BCI statutory members. The membership statistics across Africa (statutory and non-statutory) are represented in the graph below:

From 2005, the South African Forum has maintained momentum. In early 2010, Louise Theunissen, GM Client Services, ContinuitySA, was appointed the BCI's first Board member from the African continent. Her brief was to provide guidance to the board on global growth initiatives. The role provided an opportunity to grow the Institute's membership on the continent and act as a catalyst to the expansion of business continuity best practices throughout the region.

Since early last year, after the election of the BCI Committee South Africa, there has been a resurgence of interest and focus on business continuity, spearheaded by BCI Forum South Africa Chairman, Dr Cliff Ferguson.

Xhead = Connecting interested parties

The objective of establishing the BCI Committee South Africa was to bring together all interested parties across the continent, starting with South Africa. The Terms of Reference created by the BCI Committee South Africa confirmed: “The purpose and scope of the BCI Committee South Africa as follows:

1. To support southern African BC practitioners and members, on behalf of BCI, with business continuity knowledge and value-added services; 2. To promote and increase the business continuity awareness within the SADC region; and 3. To increase the BCI footprint in the SADC region through the establishment of a BC network of like-minded practitioners and members.”

To ensure that the key objectives, aligned to the overall strategy, were being addressed, several workgroups were created and managed by members of the BCI Committee South Africa. The active workgroups are as identified below:

1. BCI Chapter SADC: Establish and maintain an SADC Chapter; 2. Communications: To create a communication channel between SABCIC and BCI members and prospective members; 3. Events: To promote any events that may be of interest to BCI members and prospective members. Identify any future event requirements and assist with the associated organisation as and where required; 4. Research: Provide BCI with feedback and support on various initiatives and requests relating to African perspectives gathered from member participation; and 5. Intergovernmental, Cross-border and Parastatal: Create awareness within the inter-governmental sector to improve opportunities for growth.

Xhead = Establishment of an SADC Chapter

Individual workgroups were set up, and although each workgroup plays a key role, the Committee's initial focus is on the establishment of an SADC Chapter in order to secure its future activities. The initial proposal for the Establishment of a BCI Chapter in the SADC Region was submitted to the BCI Board on 27 February 2012. After careful review, the SADC Chapter Establishment Request was approved. The next step in finalising the SADC Chapter will be to submit a business plan to the BCI Board for final approval.

Further to the Chapter approval, additional key achievements included:

* The last quarterly forum held in January 2012 hosted in excess of 45 participants; * Quarterly newsletter is being finalised and will be released by the end of March 2012; * Discussions are currently under way with the BCI to host the first BCI SADC Conference and Awards Ceremony in 2012; and * Planning around the development and launch of a BCI SADC Web site is currently in progress.

The success of all activities initiated by the BCI Committee South Africa and SADC BCI members is dependent on the participation of all members and membership organisations, and all members are actively encouraged to get involved.

For enquiries on participation or regular communication, please contact Louise Theunissen (MBCI) (PMP), BCI Board Member Mobile: (+27) 82 928 7158 or e-mail: [email protected]



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