Travelstart, the leading Internet travel booking company in Africa, has announced an investment of US$40 million led by Amadeus Capital Partners (London).

With the new funding comes a strategic partnership with Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunications provider, MTN, which has a subscriber base of more than 40 million locally.

The funding will be used for Travelstart’s growth in Nigeria and to solidify the company’s position as the biggest OTA player on that continent.

Andrea Traversone, Investment Partner at Amadeus Capital, will join Travelstart’s newly formed Board of Directors.

While the move will strengthen Travelstart’s position in the local market with robust anti-fraud systems and procedures, the agreement with MTN will give the OTA access to multiple payment points throughout Nigeria. MTN subscribers will be able to access special deals not available elsewhere in the market.

“Since our launch in Nigeria in 2012, we have been positively surprised by Nigerians’ passion for everything technology and this gives us confidence in the future. We have enjoyed triple digit growth in Nigeria every year and this will continue for a while.

The investment from Amadeus Capital and the MTN partnership is a fantastic fit for the Nigerian market that will get access via mobile to better fares and more payment methods,” says Travelstart Founder, Stephan Ekbergh.

Amadeus Capital Partners’ Andrea Traversone will join Travelstart’s Board of Directors as part of this financing,
“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. We’re excited to spearhead this round and to see the company’s continued growth and success.” said Traversone.

Nigeria: Africa’s Most Populous Nation and Largest Economy
Widespread Internet connectivity, a growing middle-class with spending power, and a booming online shopping landscape underpin Nigeria’s reputation as a promising market for brands that seek to expand through e-commerce.

According to projections by the United Nations, Nigeria’s population, which is growing and urbanizing at one of the fastest rates in the world, is expected to increase from 180 million to 400 million by 2050. That would place Nigeria behind only India and China in terms of population size.

According to figures released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in August 2015, the number of Internet users on the country’s telecoms networks has hit 97.21 million.

Since launching in Nigeria in 2012, Travelstart has grown its share of the burgeoning online travel booking market, and the company’s latest capital injection indicates the confidence international companies have in Africa.

Considering MTN’s subscriber base in Nigeria alone the partnership makes sense for both Travelstart and the telecoms giant who reported 41.84 million subscribers browsing the Internet on its network in 2015 – an increase of 423,448 subscribers between August and September 2015.

About Travelstart
Founded in 1999 in Sweden as the true pioneer of online travel, Travelstart’s African businesses were spun off in 2010 to focus on the emerging market opportunity, where it has been growing profitably since and now has 75% market share.

Travelstart addresses the complexities in the African travel market by directly accessing local supply, solving language and currency problems as well as the diverse plethora of payment methods. In addition to its first class technology platform which meets the need of travel bookers on mobile and desktop, Travelstart prides itself on delivering an exceptional service experience to its customers.

Travelstart provides travellers with real-time access to thousands of flights from all carriers and serves 2 million monthly users in 16 countries. Travelstart has been in South Africa since 2006 and has offices in Cape Town, Dubai, Istanbul, Lagos, Cairo and Dar es Salaam.

About Amadeus Capital Partners
Amadeus Capital Partners is a global technology investor. Since its inception in 1997, the firm has raised over $1billion for investment and backed more than 100 companies in the software, mobile, internet, cyber security and medical technology sectors.

The investment team is based in India, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA, has deep experience in technology and invests in high-growth companies from early stage to pre-IPO.

Major businesses built by Amadeus include Lastminute.com, the online travel and experience company, the CSR, a connectivity, audio, imaging and location semiconductor company; Solexa, the developer of next generation genetic analysis systems, merged into Illumina to create the world leader in gene-sequencing technology, Octo Telematics, the global leader in insurance telematics services acquired by Renova Group; and Transmode, an optical networking solutions business.

About The MTN Group
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.”

As of 30 September 2015, MTN recorded 233 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.