airbnb africa

Airbnb targets Africa’s boom

Hot on the heels of Uber’s pulling up in Kenya, home-sharing platform Airbnb is now open in Africa.

The company, which allows users to list their spare rooms to travellers who do not wish to stay in a hotel has pitched tent in the continent, convinced the region is the platform’s next growth space.

Business Beat had an exclusive interview with Nicolai D’Elia, Airbnb’s boss for Africa, who spoke about the company’s growth prospects in the continent on the back of its growing tourism industry and technology boom.

“Africa is definitely a key part of our next growth phase. This is a market with 54 countries and almost a billion people, with growth prospects that are higher than almost every other region in the world,” said Mr D’Elia.

Before joining the Airbnb executive team two months ago, D’Elia was Facebook’s head of international growth and partnerships in the emerging markets of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He added that aside from a favourable macroeconomic climate, Africa has a vibrant tourism industry and infrastructure gaps that provide the perfect opportunity for users of the $25 billion (Sh2.6 trillion) start up.

“The total travel market in Africa is estimated to get to more than $50 billion (Sh5.2 trillion) in the next half decade,” he said.

“There are already 60 million people who travel to Africa every year, and these numbers are expected to grow both in terms of people who travel into Africa and people who travel within Africa.”

South Africa has the largest number of listings for the continent at 9,000; Nairobi accounts for 1,500 of the total 27,000 listings.

In Nairobi, guests can chose rooms ranging in cost from Sh1,500 per night to Sh10,000, with listings spread across several addresses, including Langata, Kileleshwa, Embakasi and South B.

Other listings also exist outside the city, particularly in the coastal areas, such as beachfront houses in Nyali, Watamu, Lamu and Malindi.