‘Human beings are social animals’: Why restaurants and events will bounce back

A restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya

In many African countries, industries such as restaurants, tourism, events and sport have been hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.

However, these sectors will eventually recover, according to Natalie Kolbe, a partner at emerging markets investment firm Actis in Johannesburg. “Human beings are social animals,” she said during a webinar hosted by Invest Africa.

Kolbe explained that as fear dissipates, people will go back to frequenting restaurants and sporting events. This is apparently already happening in China. “I spoke to my colleagues in China this morning and they were just coming from lunch and they said to me the restaurants are absolutely full to the brim. They sent me pictures from Saturday night of bars being full, so you know there is light at the end of this tunnel from a social perspective.”

There will be winners and losers in these sectors, according to Kolbe. Many businesses will not make it through the Covid-19 economic fallout. But those companies that do survive might come out stronger as they will be able to pick up market share from their competitors that have fallen by the wayside.

Kolbe is less bullish on the future of business travel. Going forward, she noted, companies will look to save on travel costs as Covid-19 has made people used to interacting digitally. “There’s no need to jump on a plane and spend three to five thousand pounds on a business class ticket for a one hour meeting in London when you can do it by video conferencing.”

Further reading

[May 2020] Cassava gets new use in Zambia: hand sanitiser
[May 2020] Silver linings: Post-pandemic opportunities for African SMEs
[April 2020] From Chinese meat demand to rocketing citrus prices, Covid-19 not all bad news for South African food producers
[March 2020] Kenya-based investor sees opportunity in Covid-19 crisis
[March 2020] African entrepreneurs reveal how Covid-19 is impacting their businesses