[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Region warms up to the hospitality industry’s expansion binge
Global respected hotel brands are expanding their footprint and have identified Africa as a key investment destination with the East African region catching their attention for its MICE, business and leisure growth potential.
Only recently the InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG, Hotels & Resorts signed franchise agreements to rebrand three properties in Tanzania and Kenya to join the IHG portfolio of brands.
Holiday Inn Nairobi Two Rivers Mall and The Fairview Nairobi in Kenya and Crowne Plaza Dar es Salaam in Tanzania are now open and are welcoming guests.
At the same time, Marriott International, Inc., has announced plans to expand its operations in Africa with the anticipated addition of over 30 hotels and more than 5,000 rooms by the end of 2024 with countries like Kenya set to host the brand's first properties.
A Turkish Company, Doğuş Group, is looking into investing in Rwanda’s hospitality sector by setting up at least three luxury resort hotels.
The hospitality company plans to construct high-end luxury hotels and restaurants in Kigali and Karongi district, especially around the Lake Kivu belt.
Earlier this year, the first Radisson-branded hotel in East Africa, Radisson Hotel Addis Ababa Bole Airport, was signed.
Radisson Hotel Group also recently announced the opening of Radisson Blu Hotel, Juba, South Sudan’s first internationally branded 5-star hotel.
In the banking and financial services sector, The Bank of Kigali (BK) says it has recorded increased uptake of its mobile banking services following the launch of new digital customer onboarding and lending features.
The bank on September 30 unveiled its upgraded digital platform including BK Mobile App with new features, Internet Banking 2.0 and BK Digital Lending.
This as MFS Africa was granted three licences by the Central Bank of Uganda to allow the fintech company to extend and deepen its offering in the country.
The licences obtained - PSP (Payment Service Provider), PSO (Payment Systems Operator), and IPI (Issuer of a Payment Instrument) - will allow MFS Africa to offer a more robust range of services.
And Pan-African payment technology company Cellulant was also granted operating license in Uganda. Cellulant will be able to develop its operations locally and regionally while providing reassurance to its business partners that Cellulant complies with local and international security regulations.
In the startups scene, YEGO Global, a ride-sharing platform from Rwanda has entered the Kenyan market to take on Uber and Bolt through its subsidiary – YEGO Mobility Kenya Limited. The firm says it is coming to Kenya to provide customized taxi-hailing services that are set to revolutionize urban mobility in the country with better terms for drivers and fair fares for passengers.
Kenyan Fulfillment and Logistics startup Sendy has announced that it has received funding from MOL PLUS the Corporate Venture Capital of Japanese transport firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL). The move comes after the firm failed to raise $100 million funding it had targeted to get this year which has also seen the firm lay off 20% of its workforce.
In other notable news that made headlines across the region this week, The East African Business Council, EABC, has called for deliberate set up of fresh produce consolidation centers across EAC countries and improve transport interconnectivity in order to boost export volumes and competitiveness.
And Medical IoT company SystemOne is launching a multi-device version of its digital backbone for medical diagnostics, Aspect, in Tanzania, to help improve TB diagnostics, reduce time to treatment, and eventually track treatment outcomes and efficacy. The project accelerates the use of digital tools to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.