It has been almost 5 months since I last wrote to the AHIF group - so much seems to have happened since then.  Of course, then, we had just come back from the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Ethiopia.  520 delegates, 36 sponsors – a record year with World Record holders in abundance.  I am, of course, talking about the wonderful interview between Patrick Fitzgibbon, the Senior Vice President Development, Europe & Africa and Haile Gebrselassie and not Jonathan Worsley who happened to mention, only a few times, that he had recently become a World Record holder himself for succeeding the climb up Kilimanjaro and play the highest game of cricket.  One great bit of news recently in is that those efforts, branded KiliMadness, have raised £179,600 to date for Cancer Research, Tusk Trust and the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation. 


Of course the main news is that AHIF returns to Addis Ababa this year and this year’s theme is “Africa – an Endless Discovery.”  We love this theme as we have been in an endless discovery of new and exciting chapters of AHIF.  The market too reflects this theme as it seems to be constantly changing and uncovering new development opportunities.  We want to use this year’s event to emphasise that Africa is 54 countries a simple fact that, too often, is missed at the suffering of Africa as whole.  One such example is the impact Ebola has had right across Africa when, in real terms, it was limited to a few African countries and those countries were closer to London than they were to East Africa.  #Africa54 @AHIF_news


We are also delighted to have commissioned a local Ethiopian artist, Solomon Hailu, to paint us a picture that he felt represents this theme.  We shall be using this art as our design for the event and we will look to uncover sections of that piece as we progress through our campaign… 


Some good news was recently made by Namibia in their elections.  The former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba received the Mo Ibrahim Foundation award for leadership – an award for good governance.   Another positive bit of news from one of the 54. 

Interestingly, what I uncovered on the back of this, if you haven’t already come across it, was the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Governance assessment.  A fascinating graph showing all of Africa’s countries and where they perform in Overall Governance, Safety and Rule, Participation in Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development…  If you click on any of those categories it will give you the country rankings and, perhaps more importantly, a 5 year % change in that status.  I’ll be keeping my eye on which direction these areas are moving,


In early March we hosted our Advisory Board meeting in Berlin.  We had around 28 people this year, the format was an open discussion which has given Bench Events some real areas to work on over the course of the next six months.  Thank you to all those who attended the meeting - http://www.africa-conference.com/index.php/programme/avisory-board/

We will be announcing our top 10 topics from this meeting shortly and looking to expand them in the agenda for 2015.  The meeting, however, was upbeat and my major take away from the meeting was to look into broadening our agenda to incorporate more “tourism” assets and that the industry is looking for more chances to meet and uncover opportunities. 

I found this article in the Guardian newspaper – Africa of Optimists/Africa for Pessimists.  On the plus side sub-Saharan Africa will have grown 6% in 2014, the continent has 7 of the world’s ten fastest economies and a collective GDP of $2,000bn.  On the negative poor management of the Ebola outbreak which had a detrimental impact right across Africa’s continent and the chaos caused by Islamist groups… 


Just like this article I am starting to realise, through my own experiences, that Africa’s countries are never easy to generalise about.  The glass is half full or half empty it really depends who you are talking to – and that person can contradict themselves time and time again in the process of explaining their views.  It is these contradictions that makes Africa such a fascinating market – there is rarely a simple answer, there will always be a number of conflicting ideas or messages.  I’ve been attempting to capture these contradictions as I move around Africa – you can read my blog here www.matthewweihs.com.

Remember the early bird rate is only open until May 31st if you want to get the best rate to come to Addis this year.