Bilingualism in hotels among consultants' recommendations for AFCON 2019

20 March 2018 3 min. read

Following a comprehensive assessment carried out by a committee comprised of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and global professional services firm Roland Berger, a list of recommendations has been prepared for the various institutions involved in hosting the African Cup of Nations 2019, which includes the need for the hospitality industry to be linguistically equipped to deal with international athletes.

The evaluation of preparedness for AFCON 2019 has been a long and drawn-out process, hindered by slow progress on the one hand, and key withdrawals on the other. In order to carry out the evaluation and offer recommendations, the CAF had originally roped in the services of Big Four professional services firm PwC; a firm that has vast experience working in the public sector in Africa.

However, the overall lack of preparedness last year caused disarray amongst the ranks of organisers. The event was postponed from January 2019 to June/July of the same year, and the president of the CAF expressed his doubts about Cameroon’s capacity to host the games.

A week before a comprehensive evaluation was due, PwC withdrew from the project altogether, leaving the assessment plans suspended. Late last year, CAF appointed Germany-based consulting firm Roland Berger to take up the evaluation. The evaluation finally took place between the 11th and 21st of January this year, and the organising committee has released its list of recommendations.

Bilingualism in hotels among consultants' recommendations for AFCON 2019

The biggest issues that emerged, perhaps unsurprisingly, were those of infrastructure. Two of the arenas that are scheduled to host games are Yaounde-Oleme and Douala-Olembe, which remain works in progress. The CAF expressed its concern around this situation, and called for evaluations as often as twice a week to ensure that the contractual deadlines are being met.

On the other hand, airports and hotels appear to have inspired confidence, extracting only a few recommendations each from the committee. For airports, the committee called for the construction of segregated corridors to help manage the sizeable influx of spectators from across the continent. Bafoussam airport was the exception in this case, inviting a sea of recommendations, including paving, furnishing, safety & security, lighting and aesthetic improvements.

For hotels, the biggest recommendation was to do with staff-preparedness. There was a consensus amongst members of the committee that hotel staff did not have the linguistic capacity to deal with such a broad range of nationalities. As a solution, there is a need to either train the staff to attain a minimum level of bilingualism, or for a recycling of the staff to ensure the same, according to the committee.

Roland Berger’s team for AFCON 2019 is most likely sourced from its Casablanca operations; the German firm’s only presence on the continent thus far.