Lonrho Column


Your Friend in Africa

Isolation – being prevented from connecting and stopped from influencing and participating, is one of the most stressful human sensations. Arriving at your destination to discover that the Internet is down, fills you immediately with the sick feeling of being isolated. Your mind fills with the tasks that will now be delayed – you can’t progress that urgent approval paper, you could miss the latest query from the funders, you can’t review the daily business report, and all the emails prepared on the flight will now sit waiting for a connection.

iPhones, Blackberrys, Galaxy tablets – whatever your chosen handheld – are all undoubtedly working better across Africa, as the different national networks ramp up to 3G and beyond. Yet roaming across frontiers remains frustratingly inconsistent – your hotel’s Wi-Fi must be your salvation, the dependable network that doesn’t fail even when nearly all else has.

I’ve just returned from a 10-day trip taking in Nairobi, Durban and Gaborone. In each city I struggled with Wi-Fi. In Gaborone the speed was so slow I couldn’t open emails that contained attachments. In Durban the Wi-Fi was faster, but the network went off-line in the afternoon and service wasn’t resumed until after 21h00, whilst in Nairobi the connection speed was only sufficiently fast when I found the right spot to sit in. But yet again, the connection collapsed all too frequently. To add insult to injury, all three hotels charged me extra for the Wi-Fi!

Fast, dependable Wi-Fi is an essential requirement for any business traveller today. The last few times I’ve requested a Wi-Fi voucher in a European hotel, I’ve been asked how many vouchers or devices I wish to connect. Our industry in Africa should wake up to the reality that the greatest fear of business travellers is isolation. At Lonrho Hotels we’ve possibly understood this need to be connected for a little longer than most – in the last 18 months we’ve established dedicated high-speed Internet connections at all Lonrho Hotels. In the majority of hotels we’ve had to invest in a direct satellite connection to ensure our guests always have high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity.

Hope to see you in departures. Keep connected.

Ewan Cameron – CEO: Lonrho Hotels