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Matthew Weihs Matthew Weihs

Africa Hotel Development: It’s Egypt, Morocco, Accor & Marriott

Just four words are needed to sum up the main findings of this year’s African hotel chain development pipeline survey conducted by W Hospitality Group, in association with the Africa Hospitality Investment Forum (AHIF); those words are Egypt, Morocco, Accor and Marriott.

This year’s annual survey, which is widely acknowledged as the industry’s most authoritative source, has, as of  the first quarter (Q1) of this year, a record 42 global and regional (African) contributors, reporting on a pipeline of hotel development activity totalling around 80,300 rooms in 447 hotels, in 42 of Africa’s 54 countries.

Looking first at the number of rooms physically under construction, Morocco and Egypt are ahead of the pack, with 5,577 and 6,142 rooms respectively. They are followed by: Ethiopia, 3,871; Cape Verde, 3,016; Nigeria, 2,544; Kenya, 2,450; Algeria, 2,337; Tunisia, 2,280; South Africa, 1,948 and Senegal, 1,919. In Tunisia, Kenya and Morocco, over three quarters of the pipeline is “onsite”, whereas in Egypt, 71 percent is just at the planning stage, reflecting its relatively “young” pipeline (a lot signed in the last 3 years).

 While Nigeria has 45 percent onsite; eight of the 15 hotels (with half of the total rooms) that have started construction have stalled, and the sites are closed.

The picture changes somewhat when one looks at rooms being planned as well as those under construction. In this approach, Egypt is the star. It doesn’t just lead the country table, with over 21,000 rooms in 85 hotels in development, up 20 per cent on last year; but it is streaking ahead of the pack. It has almost three times the number of new rooms planned as Morocco, and almost four times Nigeria, which was top of the table for many years.

What’s more, with continued signing activity (20 hotels with about 5,250 rooms last year), Egypt now accounts for over 25 per cent of the total hotel development pipeline. Morocco has 7,209 rooms in development, spread across 50 new hotels; Nigeria has 5,619 rooms in 33 hotels, Ethiopia has 5,206 rooms spread across 29 hotels and Cape Verde has 4,639 rooms in 17 hotels. The next five places are taken by Algeria, 3,202 rooms, Kenya, 3,155 rooms, South Africa, 3,133 rooms Tunisia, 2,918 rooms and Senegal 2,693 rooms.  

Matthew Weihs, managing director, The Bench, which organises AHIF, concluded, “While the hospitality industry has just been through the bleakest period in my professional career, it is fascinating to see that the pandemic has done nothing to dent long-term investor confidence in hospitality. If anything, the savviest financiers have seen it as an opportunity. They have been encouraged by enlightened governments, such as Morocco’s, which have spent USD billions on new infrastructure to incentivise investment in tourism. What’s more, judging by our other conferences this year that have sold out, we are seeing how keen people are to travel again and how valuable it is to meet face to face, rather than over a video link. I am confident that when AHIF takes place on November 02-04, in Taghazout, close to Agadir, we will see the atmosphere buzzing, with highly productive networking and with more deals announced than ever before.”