The findings of the annual Hotel Chain Development Pipeline Survey, produced by W Hospitality Group, show a surge in hotel development in Africa, with a jump in the development pipeline to 270 hotels and nearly 50,000 rooms.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also exceeding North Africa by almost 70 per cent, according to the research.
The data reveal a modest recovery in North Africa and increasing confidence in SSA - only two years ago the number of rooms in the North African pipeline was the same as that in sub-Saharan Africa.
This year’s survey is based on contributions from 37 international hotel chains with 80 brands between them.
The SSA region has far more national markets than North Africa, 49 countries versus five and these have historically been underserved with branded hotels.
It’s now time for them to catch up and they are: Mauritania, for example, with no existing branded supply, now has three branded hotels in the development pipeline.
Growth in the pipeline in North Africa has slowed considerably, impacted by unrest and political conflict.
For example, Libya, a country which many groups were focusing on just two years ago, has seen no new hotel development deals.
Egypt, which has traditionally been a major growth market, lost some projects to delays and cancellations in 2014.
As a sub-region, West Africa has by far the greatest number of rooms in the pipeline, more than double East Africa.
This is largely thanks to Nigeria, which became the largest economy on the continent in 2014 after it rebased its GDP figures.
It has the largest population and the largest number of urban conurbations in one country, with the exception of South Africa.
As in previous years, Southern Africa continues to lag behind, with fewer rooms in development this year than in Central Africa and with the highest number of countries with no activity at all – five, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
It is important to distinguish between deals which are still in the planning stage and those which are becoming reality, with construction started.
Looking at individual countries, Nigeria has by far the most rooms in the chains’ development pipelines, over 8,500 rooms in 51 planned new hotels.
That is more than the entire pipeline in Central Africa and East Africa combined.
In 2015, all the countries in the top ten, with the exception of Algeria and Libya, saw an increase in their pipeline from the previous year.
Kenya and Uganda saw the largest increases, at over 100 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, albeit from a much smaller base than the four leading nations.
Despite the continued difficulties that the country has faced, Egypt recorded a substantial 37 per cent increase in its pipeline, indicative of returning confidence.
Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco have occupied the top three slots since 2011.
While Nigeria has 33 per cent more rooms than second-placed Egypt, the average size of each planned hotel in Nigeria is less than half that in Egypt.
New hotels in North Africa generally, and particularly in Egypt, are of a much larger size.
Trevor Ward, managing director, W Hospitality Group, said: “What we’re seeing now is growing confidence right across Africa, including a recognition that there are opportunities beyond North Africa which can, and must, be exploited.
“Several of the international hotel chains have established local development offices, the newest being Hyatt in Nairobi, and the chains are more serious than ever about building their businesses below the equator.”
The research was released ahead of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, the preeminent gathering of international investors in hotels in Africa.
It takes place in Addis Ababa on September 30th-October 1st , 2015.