AirBnb Expanding Like Crazy Across Africa

In the past 12 months alone, AirBnb has more than doubled its offerings in Africa.

That’s according to CEO Brian Chesky, who says that expansion on the continent represents a huge opportunity for both the company and for travelers who like to participate in the “sharing economy.” Not to mention the thousands of homeowners who stand to earn extra income in the process.

“The spirit of entrepreneurialism is a common thread that unites the Airbnb community across the globe,” said Chesky in a statement. “I’m thrilled to meet so many entrepreneurs here at GES who will build and grow this community throughout Africa. And I’m excited to see how Airbnb will empower people across the continent to make extra income while providing travelers with a truly authentic experience.” Chesky was speaking at the Global Entrepreneurial Summit in Nairobi last week that was attended by US President Barack Obama and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.

In just the last year not only has the number of listings in Africa more than doubled, but the number of people staying in AirBnb listings in the region has increased by 145%, and the number of Africans using Airbnb to travel has increased by 139%.

In Kenya, for example, there are currently over 1,400 listings available, with the greatest concentration in Nairobi (788). Kenyans are really embracing Airbnb as a way of traveling, with the number of Kenyan guests using Airbnb tripling in the last 12 months. And in South Africa bookings are increasing by 138% per year, and 9,400 properties are currently available to rent.

If you’re not already familiar with the concept, Airbnb is a marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects travelers with property owners who have available accommodation. 1.5 million rooms are available at all price points, in more than 35,000 cities and 192 countries. A privately owned and operated company, AirBnb was founded in August of 2008 and is based in San Francisco, California.

Unlike Couchsurfing, accommodation is not free, but AirBnb offerings are often cheaper than traditional hotels, and if you so desire, allow you to choose rooms where homeowners act as hosts. This allows for a more personal, local experience. Those concerned about personal and financial safety like the company’s secure payment system, where AirBnb acts as an intermediary, and the company’s review process, where both guest and host can rate each other to build a reputation.

Though most travelers from overseas are not yet aware that Airbnb is a viable accommodation alternative in Africa, it is definitely an option that should be considered, especially in cities where hotels are pricey.

In Lagos, Nigeria, for example, the company has 35 listings, with the average night costing US$156, compared to the average hotel rate of $400. In Kampala, Uganda, there are 275 listings, averaging $43 per night. Here is AirBnb’s own list of the top 20 rentals in Africa.

Though AirBnb is the largest of the “sharing” accommodation sites in Africa, others such as and attract a fair amount of bookings in Africa as well.

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