Louvre Hotels Group, a unit of Starwood Capital Group LLC, will open as many as 16 hotels in Africa this year, including its first in French-speaking sub-Saharan countries, as business travel fuels the lodging growth.

The Paris-based company plans to add properties in countries including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Rwanda and Ethiopia, Louvre Chief Operating Officer Alain Sebah said in an interview yesterday. The company will start work on a hotel in Benin in February and may open a West Africa regional office in Abidjan.

“Demand is rising,” Sebah said in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital. “African growth creates wealth and traffic, and boosts the development of the hotel trade.”

Hotel groups including Marriott International Inc. and African companies like Mali-based Groupe Azalai Hotels are adding rooms on the continent as demand for raw materials like oil, copper and gold fuel economic growth. Sub-Saharan African economies will outpace every region except developing Asia this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Louvre, which operates 27 hotels on the continent, plans to open as many as seven in Morocco, three in Algeria and two in Tunisia, Sebah said. The company also may set up a fund to boost its investments in Africa, he said.

“Africa offers opportunities which no longer need to be demonstrated,” Sebah said.

With assistance from John Bowker in Johannesburg. Editors: Andrew Blackman, Ross Larsen. To contact the reporter on this story: Olivier Monnier in Abidjan at omonnier@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net. 

Photo Credit: A Golden Tulip International property in Foz, Brazil. Louvre Hotels Group