Â By Ismaheel OjoÂ
Travelstart, the leading Internet travel booking company in Africa, has unveiled an investment of US$40M led by Amadeus Capital Partners (London). With the new funding comes a strategic partnership
with Nigeriaâ€™s largest mobile telecommunications provider MTN which has a subscriber base of more than 40 million locally.
The funding will be used for Travelstartâ€™s growth in Nigeria and to solidify the companyâ€™s position as the biggest OTA player on that continent. Andrea Traversone, Investment Partner at Amadeus Capital, will join Travelstartâ€™s newly formed board of directors.
While the move will strengthen Travelstartâ€™s position in the local market with robust anti-fraud systems and procedures, the agreement with MTN will give the OTA access to multiple payment points throughout Nigeria. MTN subscribers will be able to access special deals not available elsewhere in the market.
â€œSince our launch in Nigeria in 2012 we have been positively surprised by Nigeriansâ€™ passion for everything technology and this gives us confidence in the future. We have enjoyed triple digit growth in Nigeria every year and this will continue for a while. The investment from Amadeus Capital and the MTN partnership is a fantastic fit for the Nigerian market who will get access via mobile to better fares and more payment methods,â€ says Travelstart founder Stephan Ekbergh.
Amadeus Capital Partnersâ€™ Andrea Traversone will join Travelstartâ€™s Board of Directors as part of this financing, â€œThe market potential for Travelstart is huge and the company is already a tour de force in emerging markets. They are one of the most profitable e-commerce companies on the African continent and with this new round of funding Travelstart will be able to fast-track its already rapid growth. Weâ€™re excited to spearhead this round and to see the companyâ€™s continued growth and success.â€ said Traversone.
Widespread Internet connectivity, a growing middle-class with spending power, and a booming online shopping landscape underpin Nigeriaâ€™s reputation as a promising market for brands that seek to expand through e-commerce. According to projections by the United Nations, Nigeriaâ€™s population, which is growing and urbanizing at one of the fastest rates in the world, is expected to increase from 180 million to 400 million by 2050. That would place Nigeria behind only India and China in terms of population size.
According to figures released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in August 2015, the number of internet users on the countryâ€™s telecoms networks has hit 97.21 million.
Â Since launching in Nigeria in 2012, Travelstart has grown its share of the burgeoning online travel booking market, and the companyâ€™s latest capital injection indicates the confidence international companies have in Africa. Considering MTNâ€™s subscriber base in Nigeria alone the partnership makes sense for both Travelstart and the telecoms giant who reported 41.84 million subscribers browsing the internet on its network in 2015 â€“ an increase of 423,448 subscribers between August and September 2015.