Marriott International Inc. plans to develop a Johannesburg hotel and executive apartments at a cost of about 1 billion rand ($74 million), the U.S. hotelier’s first own-branded properties in South Africa.

The accommodation will open by February 2018, Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

“Africa is important to Marriott International’s growth strategy because of its rapid economic growth, growing middle class and youth population, as well as the expansion of international flights onto the continent,” Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, said in the statement. “With over 850 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, there are enormous opportunities there.”

U.S. companies including retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and food-maker Kellogg Co. are expanding in Africa as household incomes rise and economies grow faster than more developed markets. Amdec Property Group, Marriott’s local partner, said in a separate e-mailed statement that Marriott’s 150-room hotel and 200-unit apartment complex would cost a combined 1 billion rand.

Marriott agreed to buy Cape Town-based Protea Hospitality Holdings last year for about $200 million. The company expects the two brands to expand into 18 African countries from 10 over the next five years, Marriott said.

This article was written by Mike Cohen from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Photo Credit: The Protea Hotel Parktonian All-Suite outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Marriott International