Proparco et al, Hold CITHA in Abidjan
The first ever Franco phone Africa market focused tourism and hotel investments conference(CITHA), ended recently in the Ivorian commercial capital of Abidjan, with the need to confront factors militating against the enhancement of investments in hotels in Africa as well as expansion of their operations up country with good tourist attraction potentials.
Factors laid bare during round table discussions were, high banking cost as compared to what prevails in Europe ,high land, and supplies cost, delay in project completion schedule times and poor tourism infrastructure connecting the cities down south and the hinterlands.
Also given prominence during the event,was the need for African governments to invest more in tourism infrastructure and tackle head-on other associated challenges thereby creating the enabling environment for more investments in Africa’s hotel sector from which more revenue could be derived to fuel economic development.
Held under the patronage of the Ivorian Economy Ministry the one day event was organized by Proparco, Horwath HTL and Radisson Hotel Groups.
Reputable captains of industry and Ivorian Ministry of Tourism officials through five round table discussions spoke to the nagging issues as it related to the entire value chain on tourist and hotel property operations in Africa.
In attendance were over 200 participants representing hotel groups, donors, institutions, banks and investment funds, engineering firms, real estate developers, development companies, law firms or public finance consultants from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East among others.
In her welcome speech Hélène Templier, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, PROPARCO, underscored the fact that hotel driven investment projects in Central and West African regional offer economic and social benefits as it provides jobs for the youth, women and the unskilled labour, provision of more business through supplies as well and improving the nature of the cities.
Dr.Alphing-Kouassi,Chief Director at the Ivorian Ministry of Tourism before declaring the event officially opened on behalf of the Honourable Minister, Siandou Fofana said,Ivory Coast had taken cognisance of the deficiencies in the tourism sector and has therefore resolved to address them within the context of the Ten-Year National Development Plan of the economy .
The country having positioned the tourism sector as the engine of economic development,he disclosed, has mobilised CFA3,200 billion to address the issue of adequate investments in tourism infrastructure notably the transport sector.
Far reaching measures he said, had been taken to position the Ivory Coast as the hub for tourism in the sub-region .To boost the country’s tourism attraction potential under the Superior Cote d’Ivoire agenda,he disclosed that,nine projects and nine reforms in different sectors had been earmarked .
Some of them he said included, reshuffling the ecosystem of Abidjan ,the Abidjan business city,Abidjan medical city,and Abidjan port city.Road trafficking to ensure better visibility in marketing centres was also being addressed .
Within the context of the agenda,the country was to embark on acceleration and promotion of the institutional framework ,boost already impressive sub-regional domestic tourists out turn from neighbouring countries such as Nigeria,Mali,Niger among others .
Making the investments in the tourism sector more attractive for Ivorian nationals was also top on the agenda. To ensure funding accessibility for investment in tourism infrastructure ,the Sovereign Tourism Fund is being put in place while the Tourism Development Fund is also being put in place to mobilise private capital for funding private sector investment in the tourism sector,Dr.Alphing-Kouassi further disclosed.
On tackling the issue of financing for hotel investments, representatives of the Bank of Africa, the African export-import bank ,the International Finance Corporation and Africinvest ,an Africa focused private equity firm during a round table discussion on how to successfully finance hotel projects in Africa, shared the individual experiences in hotel projects financing.
Long term financing Marieme Tarvaly,Principal Investment Officer,of IFC Manufacturing,Agribusiness and services noted was most ideal mode of financing for the hotel development sector.
The IFC she said, offered long term financing to cover the development and construction stage and payment was only due when the hotel starts operations ‘’
Erwan Garnier ,Director of Business Development, ,Sub Saharan Africa for the Radisson Hotel Group during a presentation, underscored the group’s passion for increasing its multiple brand portfolio in Africa moving forward.
Mr.Garnier further disclosed that ,a contract for its latest project, Radission Hotel Apartment ,Plateau,Abidjan, ,had been signed shortly before the event .