Research undertaken by W Hospitality Group – one of the founding members of Hotel Partners Africa (HPA) – reveals that employment in the hotel sector in Africa is set to grow substantially in the coming years. It estimates 136,000 new jobs will be created this year; 87,000 in 2015; 70,000 in 2016; and 27,000 thereafter – based on current signed contracts from international and regional brands, as well as non-branded developments, to come. Further jobs will be added to these totals as new deals are signed.

Whilst the overall headline number sounds impressive, the growth in demand for hotel workers varies substantially from country to country. Regionally the numbers are similar, with North Africa creating 115,000 jobs across five countries and Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) creating 165,000 across 23 countries. The five North Africa countries are in the top 10 in Africa, while Nigeria leads the way in SSA with the creation of 53,000 jobs. It is followed by Ghana with 11,000, Angola with 9000, Ethiopia with 8800 and Uganda with 8500.

In North Africa, where the hotel industry is more developed and where growth is relatively slower (the hotel pipeline grew by 9% from 2012 to 2013), the employment marketplace is likely to be characterised by the recruitment of large numbers of junior people and rapid promotions for the most able individuals. In SSA – where growth is forecast to be a much faster (23%) and where there are fewer people with hospitality industry experience – HPA anticipates three major trends: an influx of top management from abroad, a war for talented middle management and substantial investment in training programmes.

Trevor Ward, MD at W Hospitality Group, says: “The main reasons for the slower growth in North Africa include the opening of hotels in the 2012 pipeline, particularly in Algeria; a reduced investment focus on North Africa due to political concerns; and a greater emphasis on development in sub-Saharan markets. Nevertheless, by comparison with the developed economies – where growth rates are struggling to exceed 2% – Africa is positively booming, and in an industry which is as labour intensive as hotels, that is very good news for job creation.”

The companies leading the way are Hilton Worldwide which, W Hospitality Group estimates, will have a need for 10,000 new workers, Accor for 6000, Carlson Rezidor for 5500 and Starwood and Marriott for 4000 each. Trevor continues: “It is very good for the hospitality sector that so many major international brands are blazing a trail because they will bring a requirement to meet international service standards.”

Over the years, W Hospitality Group has compiled the definitive list of hotel development projects in Africa – information it now tracks and updates on an ongoing basis. From this, it is able to accurately predict the number and type of new jobs that are being created in the hotel industry.

Mark Martinovic, HPA founding partner and CEO at Hotel Spec, says: “The ratio of staff per room is consistent from one hotel to another in the same category. For example, a luxury hotel will typically employ two people per room. By comparison, an upscale hotel will typically employ 1.2 people per room, a mid-scale hotel will typically employ one person per room, and a budget hotel will typically employ fewer than one person per room.”