Why Francophone Africa's hotel pipeline is up 12 percent over 2017

Sheraton Grand Conakry, Guinea. Photo credit: Marriott International

New research from Lagos, Nigeria-based W Hospitality Group paints a promising portrait of hotel development in the French-speaking parts of Africa. 

According to W Hospitality's analysts, more than 30 percent of the current total Africa pipeline—both preconstruction and in development—is in French-speaking Africa from Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Niger and Guinea in West and North Africa to Madagascar on the Indian Ocean.

“This is a fascinating set of statistics which shows the true extent of growth in Francophone Africa,” Trevor Ward, W Hospitality Group principal, said in a statement. “The larger groups are now clearly focusing on these regions, but at the same time smaller groups such as Azalaï and Mangalis are also making a significant mark. Until now, there’s been relatively low penetration in Francophone Africa by the global players but undersupply and increasing demand are driving a development imperative for them.”

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The region’s total pipeline for the year has 131 hotels and 23,139 rooms, a 12.4-percent increase on 2017. For all of Africa, the pipeline is 418 hotels and 76,322 rooms.  

Top Companies

The top five groups in the Francophone Africa pipeline are:

  1. Marriott International with 30 percent of the Francophone Africa pipeline (38 hotels, 7,055 rooms)
  2. AccorHotels with 11 percent of the Francophone Africa pipeline (15 hotels, 2,648 rooms)
  3. Hilton with 9 percent of the Francophone Africa pipeline (10 hotels, 2,112 rooms)
  4. Louvre with 8 percent of the Francophone Africa pipeline (11 hotels, 1,899 rooms)
  5. Radisson Hotel Group with 7 percent of the Francophone Africa pipeline (nine hotels, 1,529 rooms)
Photo credit: W Hospitality Group

By region, North Africa has 60 percent (73 hotels and 13,886 rooms) and West Africa has 30 percent (43 hotels and 7,009 rooms) of the pipeline in the whole of Francophone Africa.

Among the big groups, expansion in Francophone Africa accounts for 40 percent of Marriott’s total Africa hotel pipeline, while it accounts for 26 percent of AccorHotels’ pipeline. A full 50 percent of Radisson Hotel Group’s African deals have been in the Francophone region this year, and Erwan Garnier, the company’s director of business development, calls the region a “key market” for development. “We’re aggressively expanding within the region to become the market leader,” he said. “Our objective is to double our current Francophone presence to 40 hotels with over 9,000 rooms in the market by 2022.”

“What is particularly striking is the scale of commitment from Marriott, [which has] plans for more hotels and rooms in Francophone Africa than the next three major international chains put together,” said Matthew Weihs, managing director of Bench Events. “However, the time horizon of its development pipeline stretches further into the future than those of the other players, so it may not end up being quite as dominant as these data suggest.”

While Weihs acknowledged that the establishment of new luxury properties flying global flags will “catch the eyes and the headlines,” he expects more money to be made by “astute operators” who are looking to occupy the midmarket segment. This echoes Horwath HTL France’s managing partner Philippe Doizelet’s comments from last month: “So far, only a handful of destinations in French-speaking Africa are suitable for top-end hotel development, such as Ivory Coast or Senegal,” he said at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in October.