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New era beckons for African hospitality as indigenous management companies step up

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At the 2019 edition of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last September, delegates from across the African hospitality sector were toasting to a bumper year for African tourism and travel.

The even created a platform for practitioners to celebrate the achievements of the tourism and travel industry, which contributed $194.2 billion to Africa’s economy in 2018, representing 8.5 per cent of the continent’s GDP, as well as, offered 24.3 million African jobs, or 6.7 percent of total employment.

Impressed with Africa’s growth of 5.6 per cent in 2018, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) described the continent as the second-fastest growing tourism region, only behind Asia-Pacific.

This year alone, there are 75,000 branded rooms in 401 hotels in the pipeline across Africa, representing a growth of 51 per cent in total pipeline rooms since 2015, according to the annual African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline Survey by W Hospitality Group.

Notwithstanding the obvious achievements, the big global chains are still dominating the hospitality industry in Africa, with Marriott International representing 81 hotels; Accor 57; Hilton 55; and Radisson Hotel Group 47 hotels in the pipeline. Countries with the largest pipelines are Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Ethiopia.

However, recent events show that some African hospitality management companies are gradually waking up to the challenges and are now improving on their management skills, gaining confidence of African hotel owners and impressing with world-class service and facility offerings.

From the Mantis Collection, Legacy Hotels & Resorts, Sun International, Serena Hotels, Icon Hotel Group Africa, and other indigenous hospitality management companies, Africa is beginning to produce home-groomed hospitality business managers, who understand that the enormous growth in the sector cannot be ignored or left entirely in the hands of to international brands.
These African hospitality managers are now engaging in the scramble for their market share in hospitality sector considering the boom on the continent.  Currently, there is an increase in intra-Africa travel with at least four out of every 10 travellers in Africa are from within the region. That means more guests for the hotels on the continent and more hotels to manage by the indigenous hospitality management companies.

Bearing in mind the need to address the shortage of quality hotels on the continent, as well encourage patronage from Africa’s growing middle class, Icon Hotel Group Africa (IHGA) in particular seems to be bracing up to the challenge ahead.The group, which is spreading its reach beyond its base in Kenyan, is a fast-growing end-to-end African-grown hospitality hub that serves as a resource base for diverse core hospitality competencies across Africa and beyond.  

For instance, a stay in Mount Meru Hotel or Palace Hotel both in Arusha, Tanzania, will attest to the world-class quality and commitment of the group to guide the development of international standard, yet culturally authentic hospitality assets on the Continent.From the East, IHGA’s presence is now felt in West Africa starting with Nigeria. The turnaround at Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, which resulted in the rebranding to BWC Hotel by Icon Hotel Group Africa, is a testimony to the sophisticated network of experienced professionals Icon Hotel Group has. But the Icon Hotel Group Africa is looking to expand further in Nigeria.

With that in mind, the group recently appointed Adetope Kayode to drive its growth and expansion plans in Nigeria. With over 16 years work experience across many sectors, Kayode, whose career to date includes stints at KPMG, ARM, Mixta Africa and HTI Consulting, has achieved among many feats; leading a team that structured and established the first specialist hospitality and retail real estate investment fund in Nigeria. He is committed to the vision of Icon Hotel Group, which was conceived in 2008 as a response to the dire need of a homegrown hospitality management firm with a deep and holistic understanding of the hospitality sector in Africa.


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