My recent travels to Zambia and Namibia have confirmed; our long-term strategic plan of focusing on the larger Africa is a good one. While we are not taking our eye off opportunities within South Africa, the sheer number of opportunities north of our borders cannot be ignored!
South Africa has always been the African leader, the benchmark against which other African countries measure themselves. However, we have noticed (and I had to double check my own sentiments with those of my colleagues) that although South Africa is still progressing, many other African countries are rapidly catching up to us in all aspects of trade and commerce.
Pondering why this is the case has led me to an important conclusion: it’s about economics. The governments of countries such as Nigeria, Zambia and Namibia exert a clear, distinct and strong will to improve the economy of their countries and thereby the lives of their people. Governments are insisting that their citizens hold their leaders accountable on issues of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement. On arriving in Lusaka, for example, I immediately noticed two billboards promoting a “hold your government accountable” drive. An economically stable country has half the battle won. Nigeria, for example, has overtaken as the leading African economy and with our recent poor GDP forecast here in South Africa, this may just remain the case.
Where does that leave us in South Africa?
With an abundance of new opportunities, that’s where.
South African brands are making inroads into the broader African market. We only have to pop into a shopping mall in any city centre of Nigeria or Zambia and we will feel right at home, surrounded by Vodacom, Edgars and Ocean Basket franchises. It’s no surprise that multitudes of South Africans are escalating their careers further afield in Africa. South African brands (and people) are scattered across the continent, signaling a very important fact: these countries are open for business!
As far as the hospitality industry is concerned, opportunities couldn’t be more exciting. We are fortunate that as Africans we have a natural disposition for hospitality. Remember that feel-good sense of showcasing our country to the world during the 2012 Soccer World Cup? Well, that same vibe can be felt as you travel across Africa. People are proud to flaunt what their country has to offer. Their enthusiasm is contagious and, coupled with excellent levels of education, we see a winning formula for thriving industries.
With our international hotel management solutions and our BON Hotels’ blueprints, training and ethos, we cannot wait to get stuck in – building our brand in Africa.