The Future of Corporate Travel in Africa

The corporate travel landscape is evolving quickly around the continent. A surge in population, rapid urbanization, the adoption of new technologies, as well as the continued unlocking of abundant resources are the prominent trends that are expected to propel Africa’s ongoing economic boom in  the next five years. As the global attention shifts towards Africa, experts believe business travel and trade will be crucial to the continent to realize its economic growth potential.

Vibrant new investments are growing, making Africa a promising emerging market. Africa shifted the negative international perception by improving the business climates and democracy. The continent is known for its abundance in natural resources, which include 90 % of the world’s platinum, 50 % of the world’s gold, 70 % of the world’s coltan (which the majority of cell phones around the globe use) and 30 % of the world’s diamond reserves. It is also the second largest and second most-populous continent with untapped potential.

In the near future, Africa’s corporate travel fortunes are poised for a big transformation. According to expert’s prediction, Africa’s business travel will be at its peak in the next decade. This has also brought more investment to the continent. Among the 10 fastest growing economies in the world over the past decade, Ethiopia made it to the list; achieving remarkable economic progress. Its gold mines, improved agricultural system, export, natural gas reserves (currently 25 billion cubic meters) and booming construction sector has been the highlights of the growing potential of the country.

On the other hand, Africa’s tourism industry is the fastest growing in the world. There were an estimated 33 million visitors last year for the continent and the industry expects the growth to continue into the foreseeable future. As travelling visitor numbers across Africa increase, hotel chains are expanding on the continent. High-end, mid-scale and budget accommodations are all under development targeting both business and recreational travelers and tourists. The tourism sector also looks healthy in leading African tourist destinations such as East Africa.

The number of planned hotel rooms in Africa has climbed to 64,000 in 365 hotels, up almost 30% from the previous year, according to new figures from the annual W Hospitality Group Hotel Chain Development Pipeline Survey. The increase is largely due to strong growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is up 42.1% on 2015 and is significantly outstripping North Africa which achieved only a modest 7.5% pipeline increase this year. A major shake-up in the rankings by country saw Angola, never before listed among the top 10, overtaking Egypt’s second place, due to a major deal they signed by AccorHotels. The AccorHotels’ portfolio recently became a part of Jovago’s catalog of over 25,000 hotels in Africa, further enabling customers to book a room directly through the leading online hotel booking company. The partnership would primarily involve the incorporation of 30 AccorHotels accommodations located in 13 countries on the Jovago platform and eventually to all hotels of the Group in Africa.

“Investors remain confident about the future of the hospitality industry on the continent. Even when pummel led daily by low commodity prices, exchange rate problems, political challenges and poor infrastructure, Africa remains resilient.” Trevor Ward, W Hospitality Group managing director said.

Similarly, the IMF forecast for economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is for an increase of 4% this year and 4.7% in 2017, up from 3.5% in 2015. Overall, this is down on nearly 6% increase enjoyed over the past decade, but it’s still double or more the forecast for the world’s advanced economies, such as Europe, the USA and Japan; conveying there is more to exploit in Africa.

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