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Mukwano: Uganda’s lion in business goes to sleep; his legacy continues on in our homes and lives



Mukwano Group’s products are said to touch over 90% of Uganda’s households everyday.

As you read this, you are probably sipping on a cup of Mukwano Tea or your breakfast omelette and or bread and if not your lunch snacks were made by any of the numerous Mukwano Group cooking oils and baking fat brands that include, Mukwano Vegetable Oil,  Roki, Sunseed, Mukwano Soyabean Cooking oil and Tamu Cooking Fat.

If you are not into fried stuff, you will probably later grab a bottle of Mukwano Group’s Aqua Sipi mineral water, all the while putting on clothes, recently washed with any of Mukwano’s bar soaps, such as Mukwano Star White, Chapa Nyota, Chapa Mukwano, Mama, Mukwano Bright Soap or Nomi, their detergent powder brand.

And if your home does not use any of Mukwano Group’s 150 Eagle Rock branded industrial and plastic domestic items that range from kitchen ware, garden furniture and multipurpose crates, at least your kitchenware is washed using their Supa and Shibe multipurpose cleaning products.

Better still your children used the famous MUkwano Jelly on their skin after this morning’s shower.

And if you are into farming, you could probably have used their Shamba or Mufigo animal feeds.

Such is the legacy left behind by Mzee Amirali Karmali, the founder of the Mukwano Group, that it is said that the Group touches about 90% of Ugandan households every day. The Group also has its tentacles and impact spread, outside Uganda, to include: Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda, MAuritius, Thailand, Switzerlad and India. 

The businessman, died quietly on Wednesday evening in Fort portal, Kabarole District, according to family sources.

Persistent visionary and hardworking family

Said to have been born in the 1930s is the father to Alykhan Karmali, who now runs the family business empire that cuts across manufacturing, agriculture, logistics & supply chain, property development, banking.

The late Amirali Karmali himself, is a second generation Karmali; his father, a one Alimohamed Karmali, having landed on the East African coast around 1904 and made his way to Uganda and settled in Fort Portal in western Uganda.

Inside Acacia Mall, one of the group’s real estate developments

It is said that his good humannaturedness it was his good relations with locals that earned Alimohamed the nickname Mukwano, which means friendship in Luganda. 

Alimohamed would later start a small business which, in the 1960s, gave birth to the transport business that would be run by his son, Amirali Karmali, who later later shifted his base to Kampala.

One of the few Asians who stayed behind after Idi Amin Dada’s infamous expulsion of the Indians and the subsequent bloody rule, Mzee Karmali persevered the misrule that would follow Idi Amin’s overthrow.

It was not until, the late 1980s, after peace was restored that Mzee Amirali set up Mukwano Industries that has, according to the group website “through visionary diversification into manufacturing, agriculture, property development, logistics, supply-chain management and packaging as well as financial services” grown to become the multi-sectoral conglomerate that it is today that employs over 7,000 people.

A son to one of the Mukwano Group’s employees, eulogise the late Amirali Karmali on Twitter. The Group employs up to 7,000 people

The group is also among Uganda’s top 10 tax payers.

Some of the group’s subsidiaries, according to Wikipedia, include: •          AK Transporters Uganda Limited;a fully licensed and equipped logistics and transport company with over 200 light, medium and heavy transport trucks.

  1. Gulf Stream Investments Limited; a bulk liquid-storage terminal within the port area of Mombasa, Kenya. The terminal can store close to 26,000 metric tonnes of vegetable oils, oil derivatives and related chemicals in dedicated tanks.
  2. Rwenzori Commodities Ltd; Started in January 1993, Rwenzori Commodities Ltd owns over 5,700 hectares of tea and four tea factories namely, Buzirasagama, Hiima, Munobwa and Kigumba with a capacity of 200,000 kgs of green leaf or 47,000 kgs made tea per day. The company also recently entered into a partnership with Portal Avocados, a new establishment that will be growing Hass Avocados in the vicinity of the group’s tea plantations in Fort Portal.
  3. Exim Bank (Uganda); a retail commercial bank jointly owned with Exim Bank (Tanzania). The bank in 2018, had assets in excess of UGX276 billion.
  4. Lira Maize Factory Limited; located in Lira, Lira District, Northern Uganda.
  5. Lira Oil Mill Limited; which produces in excess of 25,000 tons of oil annually, from sunflower and cottonseed, since 2007.
  6. Mukwano Agro Projects Limited; which consists of over 17,000 acres (27 sq mi) of maize, soybeans, sunflower, and simsim.
  7. Mukwano AK Plastics; which manufactures household and industrial plastic products.
  8. Mukwano Industries Limited; a manufacturer of edible oil, soaps, cleaning products, sanitary products, household and industrial plastic products, bottled water and energy drinks. 
  9. Nationwide Properties Limited; a real-estate development company that builds commercial and residential properties. Nationwide is a joint venture between the Mukwano Group and Property Services Limited, a real estate management firm in Uganda.
  10. Riley Packaging Limited; the largest producer of packaging materials in East Africa, a joint venture between Mukwano Group and Raps Limited, another Ugandan company. The factory, estimated at US$13 million, is located in Mukono on the Kampala-Jinja Highway.
  11. Royal Palms Housing Estate; A gated residential community, located at Butabika, 9 kilometres (5.6 mi), by road, southeast of the central business district of Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

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UBL board hails Mark Ocitti for resounding growth and innovation



Alvin Mbugua (right), the incoming UBL Managing Director, receives the traditional Bell from UBL Board Chairman , Japheth Katto (Centre) and outgoing MD, Mark Ocitti (left)

The Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) Board of Directors, has hailed outgoing its Managing Director, Mark Ocitti for what they called: “great milestones, resounding business growth, capacity expansion, impactful community projects in education, sanitation and a spirited, empowered staff.”

Addressing a farewell press conference, on Thurday, July 11th attended by UBL’s senior and middle management as well as members of the media, UBL board Chairman Japheth Katto, said that Ocitti’s 3 years at the brewery have set up a great foundation to deliver future “great performances” thereby “returning significant value to our investors for years to come.”

 “In the last 3 years, the business has registered a year-on-year average growth rate of over 30% in volumes and over 6% in topline delivery, which has cemented our market leadership of over 54% of market share by value in Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) in beer and spirits,” said an excited Katto.

“We have significantly grown our numeric distribution by over 25%, which has manifested in the distinctive visibility and increased availability of key brands like Bell, Pilsner, Tusker Lite and Guinness. This is reflected in the growth of the retail outlets handling our products by 28,000 outlets in 3 years thus growing the households we impact positively by over 80,000,” he added.

Although Kato did not delve into the specific details of UBL’s financial performance under Ocitti, CEO East Africa Magazine, understands that Ocitti inherited a gross turnover book of UGX377.8 billion and a profit of UGX34.6 billion for the year, ended March 2016.

Alvin Mbugua and Japheth Katto at a cocktail hosted for business captains and UBL stakeholder to welcome Mbugua and say farewell to Mark Ocitti

By end of March 2017, sales revenue grew by 6.5% to UGX402.5bn and in the year ending March 2018, sales revenue jumped by a further 6% to UGX426.7bn- a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% across the 3 years.      

During this time, Ocitti who is a sales and commercial expert by background, narrowed down the gap between UBL and Nile Breweries, their arch-rivals from UGX189bn in 2016 to UGX126.4 billion- UBL’s gross turnover for 2016 was UGX377.8bn compared to NBL’s 567.7bn while in 2017 UBL sold UGX402.5bn worth of drinks compared to NBL’s 528.9bn.

Ocitti’s exciting, challenging and fulfilling 3 years

Mr. Ocitti is heading to Tanzania as the Managing Director for Serengeti Breweries Limited, a member of the East African Breweries Group and as such, part of Diageo, effective August 1, 2019.  Ocitti who possesses over 20 years of business leadership in Oil & Gas, telecoms and beverages sectors, is the second Ugandan to lead UBL after Baker Magunda is also the second Ugandan Managing Director within the Diageo family working on the African continent, outside their home market. Ocitti also joins 14 other Ugandans that Uganda Breweries has exported to Diageo’s affiliate companies in Kenya and the United Kingdom.

“On behalf of the Board and our investors, I thank you, Mark for your hard work and delivering on your commitment to build and grow the business you were given charge of. Your stewardship has sustained our leadership in innovation, delivered market share command and significantly improved the opportunity for our consumers to access their favorite brands. We challenge you to carry the winning attitude you infused in the staff and fly the Ugandan flag high in Tanzania and wherever else you will go after that,” he said.

Part of Uganda Breweries’ beer and spirits product portfolio. Katto said that Ocitti’s 3 years in leadership had seen UBL register a year-on-year average growth rate of over 30% in volumes and over 6% in topline delivery, which cemented the brewer’s market leadership of over 54% of market share by value in Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) in beer and spirits.

Mark will be succeeded by Alvin M. Mbugua

A seasoned commercial professional, Mbugua joined East African Breweries Limited (EABL) in May 2013 as the Group Finance Controller before transitioning to Uganda as Finance and Strategy Director in October 2015. Prior to his new appointment, Mbugua was Head of Sales of the biggest Sales division in Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), a role that he has held for the last 17 months.

Mbugua was also recognized as 2017 Chief Finance Officer of the Year and took home the Strategy Execution Award at the Annual CFO Awards organized by the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Deloitte Uganda.

On his part, Ocitti said he was “really honored to have presided over Uganda Breweries at a time when it has achieved the kind of growth that has been spelled out by my Chairman,” he said adding that the three years had been “exciting, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time.”

He said the three years, had “defined the legacy of Uganda Breweries for years to come” as UBL had “received the most overwhelming stamp of approval from our consumers as they sampled one or more each of our wide category of alcoholic beverages.  

Mbugua and Katto exchange performance pledge documents.

“I am really honored to have presided over Uganda Breweries at a time when it has achieved the kind of growth that has been spelled out by my Chairman,” he said adding that the three years had been “exciting, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time.”

Truly, truly excited to be back

Welcoming Mbugua, Katto said that he was confident in his abilities to lead the company forward as Uganda’s most trusted, respected and celebrated company.

“I have no doubt that the leader we are getting in Mr. Mbugua will enable us to continue to deliver unprecedented sustainable growth whilst continuing to drive a winning culture for our staff so we can export more Ugandan talent to take over more corners of this continent,” said Kato.

Alvin Mbugua is a seasoned business leader. In 2017, while working as Finance & Strategy Director at UBL, he was crowned CFO of the Year at the ACCA and Deloitte organised awards. He also took home the Strategy Execution award.

Mbugua, who said he was “truly, truly excited to be back” said his return was a in “a big way a continuation of the building blocks” laid before when he was Finance & Strategy Director and that he returns as a “much more experienced and fine leader” following the commercial role he played in Nairobi, after Uganda.  

“I truly feel humbled to be taking the stewardship of the 4th largest tax payer in Uganda. It is no light task, I must bear witness to that. Chairman, with the confidence that comes from the board and yourself, I really want to lay out and commit, on behalf of myself and my team, that we will continue the great work and achievements left by Mark Ocitti and the other MDS who left before,” he said.

“UBL has been around now for over 70 years. We are the generation that is taking UBL into the 2020s and see UBL become 80 years old; it is no mean feat and we do not take it lightly. We understand what our forefathers have done before, we appreciate what Mark and his team have done up to this point and ours is to continue the heritage; that great story and hopefully, pass over a company to the next generation that is far greater than what we found it. That is the only gift that we can give back to Uganda, the young people coming up, and to ourselves, as we serve in leadership at this time,” he said.

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Finance guru, Alvin Mbugua replaces Mark Ocitti as Uganda Breweries MD



Incoming Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) Managing Director, Alvin Mbugua. He replaces Mark Ocitti p'Ongom who heads to to Diageo's Serengeti Breweries in Tanzania

Alvin Mbugua, has been appointed Managing Director, at Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) CEO East Africa Magazine, can reliably confirm.

Alvin, as he is known by all his former colleagues at UBL, replaces Mark Ocitti p’Ongom who heads to Tanzania as Managing Director for Serengeti Breweries Limited, another Diageo subsidiary.

An ACCA Fellow, Alvin holds a (BsC) Geospatial Engineering from the University of Nairobi and Master of Commerce Degree (MCom) in Development Finance from the University of Capetown.

He completed his ACCA from Strathmore University in Nairobi. 

Alvin Mbugua receives the 2017 CFO of the Year Award from State Finance Minister, David Bahati. He not only knows Uganda and East Africa well, he is also a well respected leader amongst his peers.

He worked at Shell South Africa where he started as a Systems Financial Consultant in 2006 and headed to Shell Tanzania as CFO between April 2008 and November 2010. He then joined Damco, the global logistics firm as CFO for the East and Horn of Africa region till April 2013.


In May 2013, he joined EABL as Group Financial Controller till September 2015 and in October 2015 he joined UBL as the Finance & Strategy Director till early 2018 when he was recalled to EABL Nairobi and reassigned as Head of Sales at East African Breweries (EABL), a role believed by many including Alvin himself to be prepping him for a CEO role.

While at UBL he was voted CFO of the Year 2017 in the ACCA organised and Deloitte Uganda sponsored awards.  

Part of UBL’s product portfolio and Alvin Mbugua’s arsenal with which he has to conquer Nile Breweries, UBL’s arch-rival

Speaking to the May 2018 Africa edition of Accounting and Business magazine, the ACCA publication, Alvin Mbugua said that as CFO, if given chance, he wouldn’t find a problem being a CEO within the business.

“As CFO, I served on the executive team providing leadership on the key areas of the business,’ he said, adding: ‘Part of the beauty and power of being a leader is that you can move into different roles within an organisation; you can transform.” 

Alvin Mbugua and Mark Ocitti at an earlier press conference in 2016 to announce UBL’s 70th Anniversary celebrations

Speaking clairvoyantly about a possible future CEO role vis-à-vis his new responsibility in sales, Alvin told the Accounting and Business magazine that: A CEO needs to be commercially astute and have an instinct to make the right deal. To understand the customer’s perspective, having an understanding of commercial theory and practice is crucial.’  

Now that he is a CEO, it is time to hit the ground running and his work is cut out.

First of all he needs to continue the sales growth trajectory left behind by Mark Ocitti, his predecessor but also return UBL to 2015 levels when the company posted UGX40.8 billion in profit and even better.

In doing all this, he needs to keep an eye on arresting Nile Breweries’ marketing share- continuing the trend left by Mark Ocitti- who reduced the gap between UBL and Nile Breweries from UGX189.9bn in 2016 to UGX126.4bn in 2017.

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Report card: Mark Ocitti p’Ongom’s 3 years at UBL



Mark Ocitti (centre) surrounded by his predecessor, Nyimpini Mabunda (right) and successor, Alvin Mbugua (left). Ocitti has built on Nyimpini’s legacy to grow UBL’s market share, a trend, Alvin Mbugua needs to keep running.

It is official, Mark Ocitti is leaving Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) after his 3-year term elapses at the end of this month.

Ocitti, is the second Ugandan to lead UBL, after Baker Magunda, since it was taken over by global drinks giant, Diageo and heads to Serengeti Breweries Limited, another Diageo subsidiary.

With over 20 years of business leadership in oil & gas, telecoms and beverages sectors, the Makerere University and Herriot-Watt alumnus joined UBL in August 2016 from Nairobi where he was Managing Director of the East African Breweries Limited (International Division) to replace Nyimpini Mabunda, who was returning back-home to South Africa.

But what has been his impact on the business?

In a statement released to media houses, said: “I am happy to say that I have played my part. And a positive part in the last three years. My three years have been exciting, challenging and fulfilling.”

Ocitti plays golf at one of the tournaments sponsored by Tusker Malt Lager one of EABL’s premium beers. Much of the growth at UBL in Ocitti’s tenure was largely attributed to premium beers and innovation brands like Uganda Waragi Coconut.

Although he neither delved into details of his challenges and fulfilments, nor shared his financial performance, a research done by CEO East Africa Magazine, shows Ocitti inherited a gross sales revenue book of UGX377.8 billion and a profit of UGX34.6 billion for the year, ended March 2016.


By end of March 2017, sales revenue grew by 6.5% to UGX402.5bn and in the year ending March 2018, sales revenue jumped by a further 6% to UGX426.7bn, marketing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) across the 3 years of 4%.         

Ocitti’s predecessor, pitches Uganda Waragi Coconut to a prospective customer, during one the UBL sponsored events. Uganda Waragi has been and continues to be a key contributor to UBL’s growth

Perhaps worth noting, is that during his time Ocitti narrowed down the gap between UBL and Nile Breweries, their arch-rivals from UGX189bn in 2016 to UGX126.4 billion. UBL’s gross sales for 2016 was UGX377.8bn compared to NBL’s 567.7bn while in 2017 UBL sold UGX402.5bn worth of drinks compared to NBL’s 528.9bn.

Even though across his 3 years in office, sales revenue grew, increased cost of doing business underpinned by higher taxation of the alcohol sector ate into the business’ profits.

In the year ending March 2017 profits reduced from UGX34.6 billion to UGX12.4 billion. As at March 2018, profits picked up to UGX18.1 billion.

A relaxed Ocitti poses for a photo with staff at UBL’s 70th Anniversary staff retro-look party in 2016.

According to a 2018 results presentation, this growth was underpinned by great performance by Bell Lager, Uganda Waragi and Guinness brands.

During Ocitti’s time, UBL also invested in UGX20bn waste treatment plant and a UGX13bn glass bottling line as well as UGX2.5bn in various social projects.   

Ocitti will be replaced by Alvin Mbugua, the former UBL Finance Director.

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