Ugandan business magnate Mukwano dies aged 89

Thursday July 11 2019

Mukwano Group of Companies Amirali Karmali

Amirali Karmali, the Mukwano Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer in Uganda. He died on July 10, 2019 in Kampala. PHOTO | DAILY MONITOR 

CHARLES M. MPAGI
By CHARLES M. MPAGI
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Ugandan business mogul Amirali Karmali has died aged 89, sources close to the family confirmed Wednesday evening.

Known fondly as Mukwano, local Luganda for friend, Karmali passed on at his home in Kololo in the capital Kampala.

The business magnate is reported to have died of heart complications.

He was the founder the Mukwano Group of Companies, a fast moving consumer foods company with interests in agriculture, logistics, real estate and banking.

Born in 1930 to a business family, Karmali first worked as a shop assistant. He then shifted to Mbarara in western Uganda for a brief stay before moving to Mpigi near Kampala where he traded in cotton and coffee.

His family later moved to Fort Portal, Tooro Kingdom near the DR Congo border where their business took off.

In the 1960s, young Mukwano ventured into the transport business after purchasing a second-hand truck which he used to transport agricultural produce to Kampala.

In 1972 when then Ugandan President Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of Asian minority, Mr Karmali was one of a few who successfully used his network of local contacts to lie low and stay in the country “hidden by good Samaritans.”

He was able to rebuild his business in the 1980s after the fall of Amin.

Mukwano Group employs about 10,000 people, according to its reports.

Its subsidiary companies include Mukwano Enterprises Ltd, AK Oils and Fats, AK Plastics, AK Detergents, Rwenzori Commodities, a forex bureau and Gulf Stream Investments Limited.

In real estate, Mukwano built the first modern shopping mall in Kampala, the Acacia Mall, and a number of other malls in the city.

Following his deteriorating health, Karmali relocated to his home in Fort Portal leaving the business to his children led by his son Alykan Karmali.

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