Africa Hotel Investment Forum looks to attract international attention

Last week at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, government and industry leaders gathered to brief the local community on the Africa Hotel Investment Forum 2015 (AHIF), which will be held at the hotel from September 30 to November 1 this year as a platform to attract foreign hotel investment in the rapidly developing country.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the Travel & Tourism sector in 2013 was responsible for 10.3 percent of Ethiopia's GDP and has generated 2.5 million jobs, 9.5 percent of total Ethiopian employment in 2013.

According to AllAfrica.com, the forum is expected to attract many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers. In total, the organizers expect 650 attendees this year, up from 520 in 2014. At last year's event, The U.K.-based Wyndham Hotel Group signed with ADM business PLC to open the Ramada Addis, a four-star hotel in Addis Ababa that is slated to open this year. 

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In a statement shared by HospitalityNet, Matthew Weihs, managing director of organizing company Bench Events, said that he expects to see more involvement from the local market at this year's event. "International companies are keen to find the best local partners," he said. 

Yenberberu Mamo, managing director of Ethiopian business company Mamo Kacha PLC, noted that AHIF 2014 introduced international hotel brands to Ethiopia's hotel developers and operators. Mamo Kacha, in fact, is collaborating with U.K.-based Collier International to develop two hotels that are expected would be rated at 4.5 to five stars.

Yenberberu Mamo (Abbey), managing director of Mamo Kacha, told The Reporter that his company is planning to build the first hotel on a 2,300-square-meter plot, and that the property should be operational in early 2018. While Abbey told the paper that it is "too early" to talk about the financial details of the project, the company is set to invest the required sum as the hospitality industry has become lucrative. In Yeka sub-City, the family owns another property where they plan to erect a boutique hotel which is also expected to be rated 4.5 to five stars. This hotel, according to Abbey, would most likely be run by giant hotel brands such as Hilton Worldwide or Sheraton Group.

Neway Berhanu, managing director of Calibra Hospitality Consultancy Company (which helped bring AHIF to Ethiopia), is also finalizing deals to open three international brand hotels here. Neway told The Reporter that his company has been in contact with three global players (as yet unnamed) to work together with local investors. In addition to Sunshine Construction, which is jointly working with Marriot, it is expected to open a five-star hotel around Mesqel Square in the foreseeable future.

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