South African OTA Travelstart has secured $40 million funding from global technology investor Amadeus Capital Partners.
The investment coincides with the clinching of a strategic partnership with Africa’s largest mobile telecommunications provider MTN, which claims a subscriber base of more than 230 million.
The funding will be used for expansion and to solidify the company’s position as the biggest OTA in Africa.
Travelstart started an Arabic language portal last year as part of expansion in Egypt.
Chief executive Stephan Ekbergh said: “Africa alone is a $50 billion travel market growing between 3% and 5% annually.
“The investment from Amadeus Capital and the MTN partnership is a fantastic fit for our company as we share the same ideology and long term commitment.
“Travelstart celebrates 10 years in Africa this year. In that time our in-house team has built a robust platform to serve consumers and significantly lower fares for all travellers.
“We take all the complexities out of travel for both travellers and suppliers and solve real problems that only exist in the most diverse of markets.”
Amadeus Capital Partners’ Andrea Traversone, who joins Travelstart’s board of directors as part of the financing, said: “The 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.”
MTN group’s chief digital officer, Herman Singh, added: “MTN’s vision is one of delivering a bold new digital world and this investment in partnership with Amadeus is a key step on a multi-year journey to achieve that promise.
“It strongly complements our existing investments in online and e-commerce in retail, marketplaces, classifieds and travel.
“This investment in the largest multi-national player in a very large and rapidly growing market positions MTN as an enabler of exciting new leading edge businesses.
“The MTN footprint, subscriber base, payment capability, network and brand awareness strongly underpin the synergies already being manifested in our other investments.”