Arne Sorenson, President and CEO at Marriott International, lists the top five reasons
August 12, 2014: Marriott International, Inc. plans to reach over 150 hotels across 16 African countries, resulting in more than 25,000 jobs, between 2014-2020.
This growth comes on a base of 14 hotels and 10,000 employees prior to the company’s acquisition of South Africa’s Protea Hotel Group in April this year. With the addition of 116 managed and franchised hotels, approximately 10,000 rooms and 15,000 employees across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Protea investment made Marriott the largest hotel company in Africa
Arne Sorenson, President and CEO at Marriott International, lists the top five reasons for being bullish on Africa.
Africa is NOT a charitable cause, it’s an investment opportunity
Africa is a continent that, with the exception of certain industries, has been largely ignored as global businesses, including Marriott International, trained attention on Asia. Meanwhile, the region has undergone an economic transformation.
The World Bank predicts that, on average, economies will expand close to 6 percent annually across the continent, with several closer to 8 percent.
The problems plaguing much of Africa are monumental, but they need not deter investment across the continent
To be sure, recent news events reveal how access to healthcare is woefully inadequate. There is also reason for concern over political strife and corruption in certain markets.
That said, not all problems equally affect all the regions on this sprawling and diverse continent. Besides investing in our newly acquired properties in Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, we are also finding successful partnerships in new markets like Gabon and Benin.
The World Bank, in its latest Africa Pulse report, points out that Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, in particular, are developing increasingly investment-friendly climates and are reaping the benefits.
The public commitment to the transit infrastructure is growing
This is an area of real concern. Governments need to do more to create a freer flow of travelers and workers in and around Africa to create economic growth and take advantage of the opportunities.
Countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Mali have signed an agreement to pursue common visa regimes, allowing visitors to use one visa to visit all of their countries. West Africa is also pursuing visa-free regional regimes.
According to Airbus, African domestic air traffic has already grown 86 percent since 2000 and international air travel has grown about 90 percent in that same time period. The more the countries of Africa embrace Smart Travel policies to facilitate the free flow of people, the quicker the growth will come.
Africa has a wide and diverse pool of skilled workers ready for opportunity
We have been impressed by the energy and talents of every one of our 20,000-plus local associates. In fact, we will be opening nearly 40 more hotels by 2020 and are in hot pursuit of more people who are ready to work.
In Rwanda, for instance, we have partnered with the Akilah Institute to identify young women to train and work in our hotels. Rwandan women currently training in Dubai will soon work in our under-development Rwanda Marriott and become earners for their families and leaders among their peers. At the same time, they will be our ambassadors to the leisure and business travelers who continue to discover, and spread the word about, this jewel of a country.
Thus a ripple effect and cascading opportunities for more jobs and more investment.
Africans are increasingly attaining the resources — and desire — for international products
Estimates of the size of the middle class range from 150-300 million. In Ghana, for instance, individual incomes have increased so much that the possession of cars or motorcycles has increased 81 percent since 2006. As companies invest and create jobs, new tickets to the middle class are created.
In our case, since the beginning of this year to the end of 2020, we will have roughly tripled the number of employees at Marriott International-brand hotels in Africa. Those will be employees with good family-supporting jobs who will generate demand for goods and services.
African investment may be a virtuous cycle, but it’s also a terrific business opportunity.
Source: Marriott News Centre