10 Things You Didn’t Know About Airbnb’s Growth In Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

U.S. hospitality booking platform Airbnb has experienced consistent growth in Africa since launching in South Africa in 2010.

The app allows people to make their homes or spare rooms available to visiting guests for a fee.

Airbnb market share
Cape Town remains the most popular African city for Airbnb. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Tourism is among Africa’s fastest-growing sectors and contributed almost $178 billion, or roughly 8.1 percent, to the continent’s gross domestic product in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

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The platform has profited from this growth and during its nine years operating in Africa, has garnered more than 130,000 listings and 3.5 million guest arrivals.

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Airbnb’s growth in Africa.

More women host Airbnb in South Africa than most markets

Recent research from Airbnb shows that more than 65 percent of hosts in South Africa are women. This is one of the highest percentages for any country in the world on the platform, according to the company.

3 of the fastest-growing markets are in Africa

Out of the eight fastest-growing markets in the world for guest arrivals, three are in Africa. Nigeria, Ghana, and Mozambique are among the countries that have experienced the most growth on the platform, along with India and China. Nigeria has grown year-on-year by 213 percent, Ghana by 141 percent and Mozambique experienced 136 percent growth, according to Reuters. By comparison, the U.S. has seen a 45 percent increase in bookings year-on-year.

7 countries where listings have doubled

Emerging markets are powering its global growth. Data shows that listings for seven African countries doubled from May 2018 to May 2019. Those countries include Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, Algeria, Egypt, and Zimbabwe, according to Quartz.

Most-booked Airbnb experiences


Airbnb experiences are available in Morocco, South Africa and Kenya. These are curated activities that tourists can buy to get a feel for the local culture. Popular experiences include paddling with penguins in Cape Town, a sunset camel ride in Marrakesh and a coffee farm tour in Nairobi.

Cape Town still on top

Cape Town continues to be the most popular African city with rentals increasing from 10,000 in 2015 to around 40,000 in 2018, IOL reports. South Africa was the first African country to be supported by the platform in 2010.

Reasons for Airbnb’s growth in Africa

People are increasingly choosing to visit new countries through Airbnb because they want travel experiences that are local, authentic, and sustainable. The company “naturally drives tourism outside traditional hotel corridors and into places where locals actually live, providing real human connections and more authentic experiences.”

Airbnb Luxe is available in South Africa and Morocco

Airbnb Luxe, a new product for luxury properties and experiences, was launched in Cape Town and Marrakesh in June 2019 along with all other major markets, according to CNN. This shows the South African and Moroccan markets’ value to the platform. Cape Town has around 53 rentals available in the category, with prices ranging from $500 to $9,300 per night for a luxury stay.

Nigerians visiting for the holidays use Airbnb

In addition to business travelers, Nigerians in the diaspora are using Airbnb
when they come home for the holidays, Aledeh reports.

Airbnb Africa Academy

In 2018, Airbnb opened a free academy providing two-day workshops and training in hospitality and technology for emerging entrepreneurs from townships and rural areas. The goal is to empower underserved South African communities in the tourism industry. The Airbnb Africa Academy has a special focus on women and youth, according to ITWeb. The company plans to expand the program to more countries in Africa.

Airbnb guests more likely to return

An Airbnb survey of guests who traveled to South Africa in 2017 revealed that 82 percent are more likely to return to South Africa due to Airbnb. Respondents said that the platform allowed them to experience the country in an authentic way, allowing them to live like a local and explore specific, local neighborhoods. The survey also showed that guests to South Africa view the app-based business as a more environmentally friendly way to travel with greater benefit to the local economies where they are traveling.