Egypt leads the pack in African hotel development

Pictured: rendering of Four Seasons Madinaty.
Egypt is heading the country table for hotel development across Africa, according to this year’s African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline report.

The survey, conducted by Lagos-based W Hospitality Group, in association with the Africa Hospitality Investment Forum, is based on responses from 45 global and regional African hotel chains.

Top 10 dominance

The research covers a pipeline of hotel development activity totalling around 84,400 rooms in 482 hotels, in 42 of Africa’s 54 countries.

The top 10 countries represent 68% of hotels in the survey, and 74% of the rooms.

Northern power

North Africa continues to dominate the pipeline, with Egypt far ahead. It alone numbers 21% of the hotels and 30% of the rooms being planned or built on the entire continent, with almost 25,000 rooms in 103 hotels.

West Africa’s share of the total is slightly down this year, despite having the largest number of countries. After several years of slumber, Central Africa is increasing its share, particularly in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Country-wise, Egypt is streaking ahead of the pack, with more than three times the number of rooms being developed in second-placed Nigeria, and four times Morocco and Ethiopia..

Young pipeline

Despite leadership in the absolute pipeline numbers, Egypt has the lowest percentage of rooms onsite due to its relatively ‘young’ pipeline. Of the total 103 projects, half were signed in 2020 and later, nearly 60% of the rooms.

In contrast, Morocco and Algeria have some of the highest ratios of rooms under construction on the continent. After Egypt, Nigeria has quite a low percentage onsite, and of the 22 hotels that have started construction there, eight of them, with about half of the ‘onsite’ rooms, have stalled and the sites are closed. This often happens due to a lack of funds.

On a city basis, Greater Cairo has by far the largest share, 12% of the entire pipeline, followed by Sharm El Sheikh and Addis Ababa.

Brand leaders

As in previous years, three international hotel chains top the table: the USA’s Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide, plus France-based Accor, with Marriott pulling firmly ahead in 2023.

Radisson has been opening hotels at a faster pace than any other operator, with some hotels opening the same year they are signed – four in Morocco in 2021, and one in Tunisia in 2022. Marriott is projecting a massive number of openings in 2023, more than opened in total for all the chains in 2022, and Accor is forecasting a catch-up with eight times its 2022 performance.

Kerten Hospitality (a newcomer to the survey this year) and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts have all their pipeline onsite, but Marriott, with the largest number of rooms and the largest African development pipeline, has three times the number of rooms onsite of those two hotel chains put together. Hilton is in second place for onsite rooms, after Marriott.

Abating headwinds

Of the total 84,427 rooms in the pipeline, over 37,500 rooms (about 45%) are expected by the hotel chains to open in 2023 and 2024.

After a positive performance in 2019 (75% opened), the actualisation of hotel deals (the proportion that opened, versus what the chains expected to open) has been 30% or less in the last three years – severely down due to the pandemic. The headwinds that developers have faced are mostly abating, although it can still be a challenge to open on time.

Franchising trend

Trevor Ward, MD, W Hospitality Group, said: “There are several reasons why new hotel development in Egypt is so strong, including the low value of the Egyptian pound, its unparalleled tourism assets, its proximity to major source markets and good infrastructure.

“One of the drivers of Marriott’s strong performance is a growing trend towards franchising in Africa, and Marriott’s relative strength in franchising with 30 brands in its portfolio. Franchising appeals to owners and investors as they retain more control of their properties; and they are now able to work with proven white-label operators in Africa to run them.”

High end highlights

The THP database currently contains records of 270 upcoming high end hotel projects across Africa.

Major developments to look out for include Four Seasons Madinaty on the outskirts of Egypt’s capital city. This will feature 346 rooms and suites, while private residences will comprise 107 villas and 80 luxury residences. Delivery is scheduled for Q1 2025.

Plus in Morocco, Ritz-Carlton Rabat Dar Es Salam is taking shape within the grounds of The Royal Golf of Dar Es Salam. The 120-key property will complete in Q1 2024.