Growth in Africa: A Look at the 2015 Hospitality Investment Conference Africa
Growth Through Partnership
By Mmatsatsi Ramawela CEO, Tourism Business Council of South Africa | December 13, 2015
Growth through partnerships, the overarching theme of the 2015 Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA) which was held early September in Johannesburg, South Africa, gave industry experts the chance to explore how growth in such a vast continent can be achieved, and how to position Africa better in the global marketplace, and the Sub Saharan Africa region on the hospitality and tourism stage.
Infrastructure and Governmental Partnerships
Africa, as a geographic continent, is quite the dichotomy. There is vast development, yet there are areas of the continent where it is difficult to even build a road. There are areas of technological advancement such as in Kenya with the M-Pesa – the mobile money concept. Yet there are many parts of the continent where broadband is very limited, or where it doesn't even exist.
In order to consider expansion and growth in the hospitality arena, we first need to acknowledge our infrastructural needs. Air connectivity, technology, and bulk infrastructure such as roads, water, and electricity are imperative to both development and post-development functionality. Funding for such infrastructure needs comes from public-private partnerships – what we often refer to as PPP, and so we find where our first level of partnership must begin.
Whilst establishing PPs is already standard practice in our part of the world, establishing PPPs that work through public sector leadership who understand and appreciate the value of hospitality and the broader tourism industry remains a challenge. This is not because our leaders do not recognize travel and tourism, or the increasing number of tourists entering our borders at a steady rate when so many other travel destinations around the world continue to struggle. This is simply because travel and tourism is still regarded as a junior ministry and is given less priority compared to many other portfolios within the public sector. Having largely developmental economies, the delivery of basic services is where the greatest emphasis is placed ahead of tourism. Yet, travel and tourism with transport and hospitality situated in the center, touches virtually every facet of the economy. It presents direct and indirect economic benefit, as well as tangible and intangible value, which can sometimes become complex to measure or recognize.
It is through partnerships that these insights can be shared and communicated. Thus, it is important for a hospitality investor in this market to carefully analyze the region's operating environment and to understand that in order for the infrastructural imperatives to be realized, they carry the responsibility of also mainstreaming the idea of hospitality in such a way that governments will understand.