Business and high-end hotels are sprouting up across Africa, from Nigeria to Kenya, Libya to Gabon, buoyed by business travellers flocking to the continent’s rich stores of natural resources, including minerals, oil and gas.

The face of African hospitality also looks set to change due to the continent’s growing middle class. According to the African Development Bank, the middle class is expected to increase from 300 million people in 2012 to one billion in 2050. This will mean more people travelling within the continent for both business and leisure – and they will need more places to stay.

“Africa is a region with a vast and diversified tourism potential,” explained Sandra Carvao, spokesperson for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. She added that international arrivals to Africa are expected to more than double for both business and leisure travel, from 50 million in 2011 to 134 million in 2030. During the first six months of 2012, international tourism to Africa increased by 7%, compared to a 5% growth overall in the world.

Factors such as political stability, increased access by air to Asia, Europe and the Middle East and a fertile investment climate have also influenced this rapid growth.

If you compare Africa -- and particularly Sub Saharan Africa -- with the rest of the world, there is still a dramatic shortage of international branded hotels -- but this is set to change in the years ahead. According to a survey by W Hospitality Group, a hotel consultancy company, international hotel chains are planning 208 new hotels across the region, accounting for more than 38,000 rooms, with Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria seeing the most construction.

Currently room prices are relatively high in African capital cities due to the low number of international standard hotels available -- the mainstay of many business travellers. It is difficult to find a four-to five star hotel room in Luanda, Angola’s capital for under $300, while a twin room in the InterContinental in Lusaka, Zambia will set you back around $250.  

“The boom will brings more four and five star hotels to Africa, hence prices will become more competitive and this will make some expensive cities more affordable,” said Markus Lueck, general manager for the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra, Ghana, set to open in early 2013. “Due to the increasing number of international hotel operators entering the continent, the quality of products and services is improving. This, combined with other factors such as accessibility, stability and security, is making business travel in Africa easier.”

The boom in business hotels will be good for locals too. Already eight million people are directly employed in the travel and tourism business according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), mainly centred in southern and northern Africa, with pockets in the east and west focused on beach and safari holidays. The industry generated nearly 9% of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product in 2011, exceeding that of the chemicals, automobiles and communications sectors, accounting for $164 billion. The WTTC predicts that this will increase as more air routes, hotels and businesses open up.