‘Government statutory requirement remains a challenge to hospitality sector in Africa’
According to the 2019 W Hospitality Group’s Africa Pipeline Report, Marriott led the way with a number of rooms and hotels (for hotel groups), followed by Hilton Worldwide and the Radisson Hotel Group. The report shows that these chains, which along with Accor represent almost 70 per cent of the total pipeline, all have development offices on the continent and are growing their local resource base.
With 11 hotels in five African countries and a combined total of more than 1300 rooms, along with 17 safari lodges and resorts in East Africa, Minor Hotels continues it’s an expansion in Africa, with a new facility in Nairobi opening later this year.
According to the hotel’s Regional Director for Africa, Mark Havercroft, hotel business in Africa in 2019 attracted capital as high as $1.8 billion, which is also successfully migrating into Africa to expand its footprint, which has been rooted in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australasia, South America and the United States.
On what Nigeria stands to gain from Minor Hotels, which will be making its debut in Nigeria soon, he said, “any hospitality industry chain that wants to establish itself in Africa must follow three key countries of interest; Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. If you want to be a key player on the continent, you have to be established in those three countries. If you want to get anywhere in West Africa, you go through Nigeria. You know, if Nigeria sneezes the rest of the West Africa countries catches a cold. Minor Hotel’s ambition is to expand across Africa, which we are doing carefully and selectively. We’re not just trying to pin a flag on the map, we are selective on where we want to go,” he said.
On how well he understands the Nigeria terrain, he said, “Only a foolish man would say he fully understands the Nigerian terrain; it’s a life of its own. Nigeria is an amazing country; it’s dynamic. It’s crazy, but you have to understand the dynamics of doing business in Nigeria, otherwise you’ll fail. It’s challenging and it’s complicated with the government structure; it’s a complicated affair. If you haven’t got good guys to surround you to guide you along, you could have problems.”
On the challenges facing the Africa hospitality industry, he said, “I suppose a common challenge tends to be government statutory requirements and ease of access into the country. Again, logistics of getting there; the number of hours wasted with the immigration officials. It’s a common challenge, so, I’m not singling out Nigeria. The bureaucracy that goes with it, it’s probably the greatest challenge that we should look at to improve. However, despite the challenges, we are confident that we have the right recipe to play in Nigeria.”