The largest hotel bookings website in Nigeria, Hotels.ng, has raised $1.2 million to expand across Africa from a number of investors including EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund and Omidyar Network, a venture capital firm launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Founded in 2013 by Nigerian entrepreneur Mark Essien, Lagos-based Hotels.ng aims to provide affordable, safe and convenient online bookings for Nigerian hotels for both tourist and business travelers. It currently has a listing of more than 7,000 hotels in 21 regions across Nigeria and has facilitated up to two million hotel reservations since its inception.
Users performed more than a million hotel searches on the site last year, while 70,000 new customers signed up. Hotels.ng’s growth in its home market hinges on two factors: Nigeria’s Internet penetration rate, which is the highest in Africa and still increasing rapidly, and the government’s investment in its tourism industry, which is expected to contribute 5.8 percent of its gross domestic product by 2024.
On future expansion plans, Essien says; “We’re forging ahead into relatively uncharted territory; E-commerce in Africa is a massive market to conquer, but there are no hard and fast prototypes from which to follow; We cannot simply replicate Western models here; we have to build our own blueprints from scratch, which takes significant investment, both in terms of time and money. This additional capital will allow us to realize the next stage in our ambitious growth plans, which will see us consolidate our position as Nigeria’s market leader in online hotel bookings, with a view to expanding our service into other African markets, such as Ghana.”