By Yahya Habil
African technology start-ups have been thriving and are becoming more impactful by the day as their number increases.
African startups have been challenging prevailing stereotypes about the continent and reshaping perceptions.
They have emerged as significant economic players boosting the economies of several African countries further proving their potential to propel the continent into an economic powerhouse.
This is no surprise as Africa’s population, of which 60% is under the age of 25, has an entrepreneurial spirit, which in this day and age translates to a tech savvy population.
The positive impact African startups have had on the continent’s economy is evident in the growth Africa’s tourism industry has witnessed in recent years.
The increase of business visitors to the continent, due to the presence of startups, has had a knock-on effect and encouraged more leisure tourists.
The increase in tourism fueled by startups has also led to the creation of even more startups, specifically travel-related startups.
Hotels.ng, which happens to be Nigeria’s largest online hotel booking site, is one example of such travel startups.
Back in 2018, Hotels.ng’s CEO Mark Essien noted that the travel industry was benefiting from the increasing number of tech startups.
Another example of a startup that was originally inspired by the increase of tourism is the Mauritian multichannel travel platform Ojimah.
This startup is on a mission to streamline African travel by connecting travelers to key industry players.
Launched at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the startup has been growing fast.
According to Ojimah’s co-founder Golden Chika-Okafor, the startup is “an ecosystem of solutions created to mitigate travel problems in the global new normal and to create a win-win for industry players, travelers and African destinations.”
Ojimah has partnered with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to make positive storytelling and digitisation key drivers of African tourism recovery after the pandemic.
The digital platform connects users to over 350 airlines, close to 1.2 million hotels, and over 200,000 activities.
With the ongoing increase in startups, Africa’s tourism industry is only expected to flourish. This is creating a beneficial cycle - start-ups boosting tourism, and tourism boosting start-ups.
Less than two weeks ago, the South African Ministry of Tourism signed a partnership deal with Google to promote the country as a leading tourism destination.
Start-ups will once again play a key role in contributing to the South African tourism sector as Google plans to provide support to tourism startups by offering training on advertising, helping to digitise more tourist sites, and enabling small businesses in the sector to compete globally as part of the partnership.
The South African Ministry of Tourism predicts that the number of arrivals will exceed the 10 million recorded in 2019 by the end of March next year, which is a positive outlook for the recovery of the tourism industry from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, and on the northern side of the continent, GITEX Africa 2024 is already a clear indicator as to how the tourism industry in the continent will continue to flourish, and how that will be due to the increasing phenomenon of start-ups.
The event, which will be held in Marrakech in May 2024, will surely contribute to more tourism as many tech-savvy businesses will be visiting Morocco to attend the event.
South Africa’s deal with Google and Morocco’s GITEX Africa are after all only two of many indicators of how the tourism industry in the world’s youngest continent is bound to prosper due to the sheer presence and efforts of start-ups.
As mentioned earlier, the increase and development of start-ups lead to a significant influx of visitors, thus boosting the tourism industry, which in turn leads to the founding of even more start-ups, forming a beneficial cycle that will greatly serve Africa’s economy.
The author, Yahya Habil, is a Libyan freelance journalist focusing on African affairs. He is currently working with a think tank in the Middle East.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT Afrika.
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