By Michael Kanaabi and Ssebidde Kiryowa
According to internet sources, the per capita income in Uganda in 2009 was approximately $453 (sh1.1m) annually. An estimated 30% of the 33 million Ugandans live on less than $1 (sh2,450) per day. Under those circumstances, wealth that would not merit mention in wealthier communities attracts a lot of attention in Ugandan circles.
That means the people we scream about in our society pages half the time do not even warrant mention anywhere else in the world. But that is not to say we do not have a few ‘world class’ rich people in Uganda.
Compiled here is a list of individuals in Uganda whose accumulated assets (anything tangible or intangible that can be converted into or controlled to produce cash) are known to be markedly above the rest of the individuals in the country. The list is not exhaustive and net worth (the total assets minus total outside liabilities of an individual) values are hard to determine.
The list, compiled largely with the help of Internet and sources in the know, is loosely based on seven classes of wealthy individuals: The New Money Class (these acquired their wealth within the last 15 years), The Young Entrepreneurs (less than 50 years old), The Executive Class (CEOs and managing directors of government departments and private firms), The Expatriates (non-Ugandans though some may have dual citizenship), the Pastors, The Old Money Class (individuals who inherited their wealth that has run in their families for generations) and The Super Rich.
The super rich
These are guys whose wealth is internationally-recognised
He is reportedly the biggest landlord in Kampala after the central and Buganda kingdom governments. His worth is estimated to be between $550m and $800m (sh1 to sh2 trillion). Ruparelia was once a supermarket attendant and cab driver in London. Most pundits say he made a killing from his ‘Get Rich Quick’ lottery that had millions of Ugandans scratching for money in the mid-1990s.
Ruparelia’s major assets include Crane Bank, Speke Hotel, Kabira Country Club, Munyonyo Country Resort and many more in Dubai and the UK. With his wealth, the Energy ministry could construct two 600 MW dams like Karuma (allocated sh800 billion). Karuma alone will save Uganda and its neighbors from load shedding.
Amiral Karmali aka Mukwano
His wealth is estimated to have hit the $700m (sh1.5 trillion) mark. His products from soap, cooking oil, plastics, tea leaves, toilet paper are household names. With new factories recently set up, including a big one in Tanzania and huge real estate properties increasing by the day around Kampala, the retired Karmali and his family are definitely wealthy by any standards in the world. Their wealth is bigger than Ministry of Education budget that covers UPE, USE and public universities at sh1.3 trillion.
The Madhvani family
Named among the 1,000 wealthiest families in the UK, the Madhvanis as a family holding are estimated to be worth over $500m (sh1.25 trillion), with key assets being their Kakira Sugar estate, soap and tea manufacturing company plus an insurance company. The Madhvani group also has vast interests in tourism, with CNN recently voting their breathtaking Chobe Lodge gym fifth best in the world. With their wealth, Uganda can fund the entire road sector for a year.
With their backbone in Uganda being their vast Lugazi Sugar estate, the Mehtas are also into industry and manufacture of cables and steel, among other products. This family also has other businesses in the US, India and Canada, with their estimated net worth being above the $400m mark.
He owns the local franchise of the Mercedes Benz brand. He also owns one of the first private TV stations in the country — WBS TV. He is estimated to be worth over $100m.
He was in the news recently after acquiring the Katatumba Suites and turning it into Shumuk House, a name he uses for his Shumuk Group of Companies albeit controversially. The shrewd money lender owns many warehouses and bonds on top of importing cars, dealing in forex, aluminium and steel and hotels. Our estimates put his net worth at $100m.
We all know the Roofings Steel Group that recently opened another steel plant in Namanve with total investment in both plants above $100m. Lalani, a Briton of Asian origin, has an estimated net worth of over $100m.
With interests in financial management, railways, ports, telecommunications, power, banking and real estate, this elusive tycoon who likes to keep a low profile, is worth over $200m. He is still the only Ugandan shareholder in MTN’s Ugandan and Rwandan business to date. He is dubbed the ‘king of energy in Uganda’, having stakes and interests in Eskom Uganda, Aggreko and Jacobsen, among other energy firms. He also has interests in oil in Kazakhstan as well as investments in South Africa and Tanzania among other places.
Bitature has extended his airtime distribution franchise from East and Central Africa to Nigeria. He has also moved into aviation, real estate, media, energy, forex trading, insurance, pay TV and electronics. He also owns commercial and residential properties. He is worth about $100m (about sh220b) almost twice the paltry sh133b given to the National Agricultural Advisory Services for the improvement and boosting of agricultural services, which is the key livelihood of over 80% of Uganda’s population.
Abid Alam and the Alam family
These are another of the entrenched industrialist families in Uganda and Kenya with massive interests in steel and related products under the stewardship of group chairman Abid Alam. The group is now into tourism as well. They also recently started a sugar plantation and factory in Mayuge district. Our estimates put them just around the $100m mark.
While his fortune is said to be declining, the man, who started out as a garments trader in downtown Kampala in the 1970s, is still one of the top hoteliers in the country. He owns the Imperial hotels, Imperial Insurance, Imperial Forex on top of other businesses and properties through his Dembe Group. We put him around the $100m mark.
Also on this list: Aya brothers ($100m), BMK, Basajjabalaba, Isabirye Mugoya, Kibuka Musoke and Muhammed Alibhai
She is the owner of hardware trading giant Kingstone Enteprises and Oasis Mall.
Executive director, Wavamunno group of companies
She is founder of Delight Uganda, which makes Cheers juice.
Agnes Babirye Namubiru
She is the proprietor of HB Towers.
Hajat Sarah Kiyimba
She owns Hotel Brovad, Masaka and other prime properties.
She is the proprietor of Radio One and Akaboozi ku Bbiri besides being Uganda’s finance minister.
Mariam Luyombo, owns the famous Taibah schools.
Jyostna Ruparelia, director, Ruparelia Group
The Kwagalana group
This is a group of about 40 tycoons who own almost all the real estate in the city centre.
He became famous through his Ntake Bakery and has moved on to own a number of buildings in and out of town, including Nalule Arcade.
He owns Suncity Arcade, another building on Luwum Street and Cooper Complex.
He is the chairman of the group and could be the wealthiest. Apart from Kirumira Towers, he owns Royal Complex, a bus company, GKO security, Gelp Petroleum, Hotel Havana, Hotel International and many other properties. He net worth is about $30m.
He is the owner of Mutasa Kafeero Plaza and a number of other businesses.
He owns Kizito Towers and other properties.
New Money class
Apart from his Kampala and Pyramid casinos, Kabonero has an airtime distribution franchise etc and could be worth $50m.
He made headlines as the CEO of the first ARV factory in Africa, an investment worth $100m in Luzira. He is also a director in Quality Chemicals and owns a beverages and food processing firm. Net worth is over $25m.
The only official Ugandan shareholder in Orange Telecom, Mukasa is said to own over 40 sq miles of land along Lake Victoria shores. Net worth estimate is $20m.
He is the real estate revolutionary behind Akright projects. His networth is about $15m.
He made his money exporting grain to Sudan. He also owns a construction firm and a hotel. He is worth about $20m.
He is a director in Silk Events, WBS TV, Wavah Water, Radio and Club Silk etc. He is worth about $8m.
The man behind the Capital Shoppers chain of supermarkets is estimated to be worth $20m.
The Jomayi Company proprietor could be worth about $10m.
His is the new name in uptown real estate, with shopping malls, office blocks and apartments in Kampala’s top suburbs. He is worth about $15m.
His companies include Water Tight Security and Pinnacle Group. He is also a majority shareholder in T1 events. He could be worth about $5m.
Aga Sekalala Junior
He is a director in Silk events and Radio Simba, among other businesses. He is worth about $8m.
Good African and Rwenzori coffee are his brands. He started out as an events promoter and studio owner. He later ventured into advertising before he sold off his interests and joined the coffee business that has taken him global. He could be worth about $10m.
Believed to be the richest Ugandan under 30, he is the owner of RAA group of companies. He also owns Mara Group, the majority owner of Kensington Estates in Uganda, Ghana and Dubai. He is worth about $35m.
Others include: Charlie Lubega, Andrew Mwenda, Lt Col. Benjamin Kalizibwe, Aggrey Tumukye, Acaali Kobusingye, Ali Halari Kamru, Aminah Senankya Kiberu, Apollo Ntegamahe, Bernard Ogwang Ocwoo, Bosco Ogwang Edola, Christopher Nakabale, Chris Kafule, Elisha Kakyomya, Emmanuel Amaza, Felix Orii, Francis Magezi, Fred Akampumuza, George Atyam, George Kahwa, George Kermudu Adubango, George Namachi, Glueport Sande, Haruna Musiwa, Herman Kigoye MD, Johnson Ocol, Josephine Kizza, Kakanyero, Kayonza, Kellen Kayonga, Michael Awany, Moses Kyatwoha, Olet Elyak, Omar Mandela, Patrick Lucky, Phillip Mangeni Aremo, Sarah Kiyimba, Sebastian Munulo, Stephen Mugasa, Sulaiman Mafabi Lumolo and Vincent Opio
Many of these people actually fall in the Super Rich class. They were minting money when some of our parents were still in diapers
The Honorary Consul of the Republic of Pakistan owns Hotel Diplomate and a number of other properties both in and out of Uganda.
He redeveloped a lot of old property in the prestigious Kololo suburb. He also owns Oscar Industries.
Joseph Roy Zziwa
The flight captain’s vast Conrad Properties are raking in dollars.
Aga Sekalala Senior
He owns Ugachick and Sekalala Enterprises from where he made his fortune way back selling agro supplies.
He owns Uganda Batteries, Jesa Farm and Nice House of Plastics.
Dr. Martin Aliker
He has shares in some of the big corporate firms in town.
Dr. William Kalema
He owns big chunks of land in Kampala. He is the majority shareholder in State wide Insurance and other properties and businesses in and out of Uganda. Haji Musa Katongole
He is the chairman of Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association.
He owns Peacock Paints Company
He owns Crown beverages and Hot Loaf, National Bank of Commerce, Inscor Uganda Limited (foods)
Kayonza Ssezi Mitegyeko
He owns Kayonza Distributors of airtime, cement, furniture, etc
These are upcoming friends and children of the original Kwagalana Group. They include Godfrey Kirumira’s younger brother Moses Kalungi, Brigadier Elly Kayanja’s younger brother Flex Kabuye and Tom Kaya of the famous Kaki Investments that not only owns a fleet of over 100 taxis, imports spare parts, but also runs a huge motor garage, petrol station and money lending business.
Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo
Sam Engola, north
Richard Byaruhanga, western
Ernest Kiiza, western
Steven Njubi, eastern
Budget Mugabirwe, eastern
Edigold Monday Richard Byarugaba
PaulKasoma Gary Skinner
K. L. Dickson
Rtd Col. John Mugyenyi
Arch Henry Ssentongo
the deepest pockets