One of the first Kenyan owned hotel management company, Icon Hotel Group Africa is set reap Somalia’s peace dividends by setting up a branch in the country.
Peace and normalcy has returned to the troubled Horn of Africa state after Kenya and the African Union defeated the Al-Shabaab. Somalia had not known peace for more than two decades.
The latest move by Icon Hotel Group Africa comes amid heightened interest in Africa over the last decade that has seen infrastructure expanding steadily and the building and upgrading of hotels.
The hospitality industry in Africa has got a boost from various multi-national hotel chains that have made commitments to expand their footprints on the African continent.
The hotel will also use the country as a spring-board to other regions in Eastern Africa. The new firm will be providing high-end solutions to the hospitality industry.
In an interview with The Standard on Saturday in Arusha recently, Icon Hotel Group founder and hotelier, Fred Maina said Somalia is their next frontier. “We shall start wholly by covering the larger East African Community (EAC) region before rolling out to the rest of Africa,’’ he said.
Mr Maina has 35 years experience as top manager in Kenya’s leading hotels said.
Maina said Kenya’s skilled manpower in the hospitality industry, remains unrivalled in the region. He explained that Icon Hotel Group Africa will apart from managing hotel and hospitality establishments seek to be involving in leasing, franchising hotels in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands bordering the East Coast of Africa.
“We shall target some top projects, aim to re-engineer the hospitality industry as well as look at the possibility of reviving hotels that went under and come up with strategic planning with leading financial institutions to provide the much needed financial muscles,’’ he said.
Icon Hotel Group Africa headquartered in Nairobi has already signed contracts to manage six hotels in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
In one of its experimental phase in Tanzania, Icon Hotel Group Africa is overseeing the management of the Palace Hotel, Arusha.
Maina said that in Kenya, three new hotels under construction near the shores of Lake Naivasha rated as four-star resorts will be under their stable.
“Our focus will be on small and budget hotels and as we grow, we shall venture into more bigger ones,’’ Maina said.
South African hotel group, City Lodge has ventured into the rest of Africa with its entry into Kenya and Botswana respectively.
Maina said in all the properties they are keen to venture into, they will target seminar and conference facilities as nearly 45 per cent of meetings and conferences in the African continent takes place in hotels
“This percentage is increasing thus new hotels and upgrades are vital,’’ he said.
By Philip Mwakio, The Standard