Context – high value tourism as a driver for African economies

Africa’s growth over the twenty years has been driven in part by the boom in commodities markets, and in part by better investment climate and better policy frameworks. The slump in commodity prices, such as oil, in the latter half of the last decade had a profound impact on economies of oil rich countries like Angola and Nigeria, while countries with no natural resource exports sectors bucked this trend and continued to grow at pace. The IMF’s Roger Nord described this as a “tale of two Africas”.

Humphrey Kariuki, a successful African entrepreneur, has long recognised this trend and has focused on investing into long term sustainable industries that offer potential for higher value offerings and services outside of the extractive industries. HK has identified tourism in Africa as an opportunity to realise increased value from Africa’s sustainable natural resources such as wildlife and through investments in conservation.

The upside potential of the African tourism industry is highlighted by the African Development Bank, which notes that although tourism brought in US$36.2 billion in tourism receipts in 2017, that represented only 3% of global tourism receipts. Tourism is also a major driver for jobs, with over nine million people directly employed in the tourism industry in Africa.

Humphrey Kariuki: “We have some of the most pristine wildlife and conservation areas on the planet that lend themselves to high value tourism products and services.”

Explaining his interest in the tourism sector in Africa, HK said: “The African tourism sector offers an unparalleled opportunity to invest in an industry that has exceptional upside potential. We have some of the most pristine wildlife and conservation areas on the planet – with the right vison, investment and commitment we can transform this into a suite of high value tourism products and services.

“We, as African investors, should be looking to maximise the value of these natural assets and increase the revenue potential from them by building a more sophisticated tourism industry. This means investing into protecting our wildlife, investing in infrastructure, investing into building our hospitality sector skills base and having a clear vision for African tourism.

“Investments in tourism will not only create jobs, support and underpin the growth of secondary industries and boost African economies but this will also help us, as Africans, define our position in the global tourism market.”

HK’s investment in high value tourism

With a passion for wildlife and conservation, HK is using his business acumen and investments to support conservation in his native Kenya as a means of boosting the value of the country’s tourism industry.

  • In 2013 HK acquired the Mount Kenya Game Ranch and Animal Orphanage. The conservancy is home to the critically endangered mountain Bongo – in December 2020 HK, in collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism, launched the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary, an 800 acre indigenous forest area on the slopes of Mount Kenya aimed at re-establishing the mountain bong population.
  • In 2015 HK acquired the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, a luxury resort complex that is surrounded by the Mount Kenya Game Ranch. HK believes that by investing into protecting the surrounding wildlife and conservation areas and creating a sustainable, high quality natural environment, he is providing a unique and high value offering for tourists entering Kenya.

From investments in power infrastructure to tourism and conservation, HK will continue to set an example to other African investors by driving the development of high value industries and helping unlock Africa’s true potential.