Press Release

28 Jun 2012

How to Make It in the Hotel Business: AHIF Programme Launched

Bench Events, organiser of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), taking place in Nairobi on September 25-26, has launched the official programme for the conference, which has a very clear focus on the question: What does it take to be successful in the hotel business in Africa?

The event, which is the premier hotel investment conference on that continent, will be attended by leaders of the hospitality industry, by investors, by consultants and by the media from Africa and around the world. The agenda draws on their expertise, both global and local, to explore the fundamental issues that will determine success or failure of hospitality projects in Africa. These include: the political climate, local infrastructure, access to natural resources, government initiatives, overall market potential, specific hospitality opportunities in Africa , tourism policy, access by air, the practical challenges of doing deals in Africa, sourcing and structuring finance, brand creation and communication, ensuring long-term sustainability, deciding to manage or franchise and gaining specific market intelligence. There will also be special sessions focusing on, West Africa Capital, the anatomy of a successful hotel project and the budget & mid-market segment – arguably the most exciting opportunity of all.

Conference highlights include:

  • Welcome address by Hon. Dan Mwazo, Minister of Tourism, Kenya
  • A keynote address by Ian Goldin, Oxford Professor and economic advisor to Nelson Mandela, followed by a question and answer session led by the Chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Arthur De Haast
  • A panel session on risk, with some of the world’s most successful hoteliers - Kurt Ritter, President & CEO, Rezidor, Alex Kyriakidis, President & Managing Director Middle East & Africa, Marriott International and Graham Wood, Managing Director, Southern Sun Hotels
  • David Scowsill, President of the World Travel & Tourism Council explaining what African governments can do to create tourism jobs and growth
  • The challenges of creating sustainable destinations, led by Kenya’s tourism minister
  • Aviation CEOs and IATA engaged in a hard talk on airlift growth across Africa
  • Jones Lang LaSalle’s MD for Middle East and Africa leading a discussion with the International Development Corporation (IDC) and some of the industry’s most influential hotel investors and business developers from Accor, The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Marriott and Westmont, about what it takes to do a deal in Africa
  • Four top investment professionals examining what lenders are looking for and discussing how best to structure deals to overcome the high cost of capital
  • Four of the leading executives in the African budget and mid-market hotel sector, including Ewan Cameron, CEO, Lonrho Hotels, discussing the best opportunities in this niche and the criteria for success

In addition to the speeches and debates on the programme, there will be a facilitated networking event prior to the start of the formal proceedings and glamorous receptions each evening.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events, said: “For anyone involved at a senior level in the hospitality industry in Africa, there are compelling reasons to come to AHIF. Economic growth across the continent is 6%, double that of many developed Western economies, air traffic is set to grow by over 8% and the hotel development pipeline is up by more than 40%. Whilst the opportunities abound; there are also challenges and AHIF will bring together the best brains in the business to figure out how to succeed in this environment. And if that’s not enough, the networking will be unparalleled!”

The full speaker line-up, featuring the who’s who of the African hotel investment community, includes

  • Michael Cooper, Vice President, Development, IHG
  • Jean-Marc Grosfort, Chief Development Officer, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International
  • Bani Haddad, VP, Middle East & Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group International
  • Rudi Jagersbacher, President Middle East & Africa, Hilton Worldwide
  • Christian Karaoglanian, Chief Development Officer, ACCOR
  • Tewolde GebreMariam, Chief Executive Officer, Ethiopian Airlines
  • Peter Norman, Senior Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, Hyatt International
  • Uzoma Nwankwo, CEO & Managing Director, AiQ Capital Management
  • Rohan Patel, Director, Sankara Hotel Group
  • Kevin Teeroovengadum, Director, Actis
  • Kevin Underwood, Vice President/Principal, AECOM Design + Planning
  • Jan Vanderputten, Vice President Operations, Africa, Hilton Worldwide
  • James Wilson, Partner, International Resort Development
  • …And many others of a similar calibre…

Full details of the programme can be found on the AHIF web site,
AHIF moves to a different African city every year showcasing high-growth destinations across the continent. Last year the conference was held in Morocco, attracting more than 350 delegates from 34 countries.

Confirmed sponsors are as follows: 2012 Host Partner: (KTDC) Kenya Tourist Development Corporation. Platinum Sponsors: ACCOR, Marriott International, Inc and Hilton Worldwide. Gold Sponsors: AECOM Design + Planning, The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, France 24, Hotel Spec, Horwath HTL, Hyatt International LLC, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Lonrho Hotels, Sankara Hotel Group, STR Global, T&L Europraxis, W Hospitality Group and Wyndham Hotel Group.


About Bench Events
In addition to the next Africa Hotel Investment Forum, Bench Events is one of the organisers and founders, alongside Questex Travel + Hospitality and MEED Events, of several well-known conferences for the hotel investment industry including Berlin (IHIF), Dubai (AHIC), Istanbul (CATHIC) and Moscow (RHIC).
Further Information
For further information and high resolution images, please visit or contact David Tarsh, Tarsh Consulting, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7602 5262, Mob: +44 (0) 7770 816 070.