Africa is seeing rapidly expanding business opportunities, which have contributed to the growth in air travel throughout the continent. More than half of the companies across the 10 countries we surveyed for our Africa e-commerce report indicated that they had a global business travel footprint, underlining the complexity of business travel in the region.
Significant differences emerge when the trend is examined by country with West African businesses in particular far more likely to operate globally such as in Cameroon (67%) and Senegal (65%). With flights to Europe in particular being short and efficient, this highlights the advantage these businesses have in being closer to Western markets.
Only Angola has a higher proportion of global businesses (70%), largely driven by the petro-chemical industry. South Africa has one of the lowest levels of global activity (47%), only ahead of Uganda (41%). Simultaneously, however, South Africa is only behind Senegal and Ghana in proportion of businesses operating across Africa – still a low 19%.
For 52% of respondents, online booking is the preferred method, which includes air tickets in their booking activity. Only 20% of companies book accommodation online, suggesting an area for substantial growth and opportunity in the future.
More growth is expected, with a further 18% of companies stating that they intend to book travel online in the near future. This level of activity corresponds with the 70% of businesses whose staff use mobile or online apps while traveling, indicating a high level of interaction and tech savvy.
Online travel payment methods vary considerably from country to country. While 45% of companies report using credit cards and 43% use electronic funds transfer (EFT), this balance is absent in individual countries. For example, in Nigeria 59% of respondents pay by credit card and only 30% by EFT.
This finding underlines the fact that, while credit card penetration is low in the overall population, it is high among businesses and business decision makers.
The influence of corporate culture and systems is also evident in business travel procurement, with as many as 83% of companies centralising travel procurement. Despite this high level of control, only 66% of companies use travel agencies, which are ascribed to a lack of trust in third parties having control over travel arrangements.
Interested in learning more about business travel trends in Africa? Keep an eye open for the latest insights from our joint research project Neema – which aims to identify trends and best practices related to business travel in Africa.