Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which manages 1,370 hotels in more than 110 countries, is building 35 outlets in Africa as it bets on economic growth rates forecast to be among the fastest in the world, Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Neumann said.
The company officially starts operating the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday. The hotel was developed by a Kenyan investor and three Scandinavian funds at a cost of 9 billion shillings ($88 million), Neumann said in an interview in the city. The other properties will be built by 2020, he said.
“We see Africa as the continent of opportunity,” Neumann said. “We have been focusing on Africa for some time and we are now recognized for having the largest amount of hotel rooms under development” in sub-Saharan Africa.
Growth in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to accelerate to 4 percent this year and 4.7 percent in 2017 from an estimated 3.5 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. That is faster than any other region in the world except the Emerging and Developing Asia region that includes China and India, according to data on its website.
Carlson Rezidor will open a second hotel in Kenya under the Park Inn brand in the Nairobi suburb of Westlands at the end of this year and a third one under the Radisson Blu Residences brand next door to the official residence of Kenya’s president in 2017, Neumann said.
“This is a country which has an enormous future,” he said. “It has unparalleled natural beauty and Nairobi is an international great city. Kenya Airways is a recognized international airline, which is very important for the African continent and we together need to do everything possible to promote this city and this country.”
Other properties under development include a Radisson Blu and a Park Inn Hotel in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, with a combined total of 460 rooms that are expected to open by May. In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a second Radisson Blu Hotel will be built, while the company is also constructing properties in Uganda and South Sudan.
“Today we already have 31 hotels on the African continent in operation, the other 35 are coming on so that is a real force,” Neumann said. “We want to make Radisson Blu the leading brand in Africa in the upscale market.”
The Radisson Blu is a 5-star establishment while Park Inn targets “mid-market” customers.
Shares in Rezidor gained 6 percent to 28.30 kronor by 1 p.m. in Stockholm.