Saturday, May 15, 2010

Though Charles Mbire was a class a head of me, he is miles a part now


Charles Michael Mbire

I met Charles Mbire at St.Mary's College Kisubiwhen I joined in 1974. Little did I know that after school we would be miles apart! it is true that by then and the standards of that time,the Mbire family was already an afluent one. I thank him for the support given to my publishing works for SMACK related literatures.
William Kituuka

THE EAGLE MET MR. CHARLES MBIRE.
The Eagle team (2002) included Robert Nturwabakye, John Nkwanga and Steven Mukasa.
Below are Excerpts.
The Eagle: Could you tell us about yourself?
Mr. Mbiire: I am Charles Mbiire, an Economist. I have several business interests ranging from Communications, Power projects, and several companies. I represent international companies in South Africa, Uganda, United States, U.K and now Nigeria. I am in major companies such as MTN Uganda where I am one of the founders, a shareholder and Director.
The Eagle: What attracted you to SMACK?
Mr. Mbiire: First, I think it’s one of the top schools. If you look around in all spheres of influence, you will always find somebody from SMACK.
The Eagle: Which House were you in?
Mr. Mbiire: Mugwanya House.
The Eagle: Who were your favourite teachers?
Mr. Mbiire: The teachers I remember are Mr. Mutumba, then Brother Sekitoleko, Brother Tinkasimire (who was very helpful to me). My Headmaster Brother Anthony Kyemwa who really disciplined us, and Mr J.C. Kiwanuka.
The Eagle: What unique trait did you get from SMACK?
Mr. Mbiire: One of them is going to church, the morals. I got a very strong religious background and then of course coming from an “upper class” primary school, when I got to St. Mary’s, it was a shock. I was brought down to reality to what we are in Uganda. I had never been to a boarding school before. SMACK actually groomed me into a man.
The Eagle: How was the interaction between S.1 and S.6 during your time?
Mr. Mbiire: There was division, for example, the S.6 had many privileges including dances, going out and the young boys were jealous. You know, it is natural.
The Eagle: No bullying?
Mr. Mbiire: No. In my life at Kisubi, I was never bullied.
The Eagle: How was the social life those days?
Mr. Mbiire: I remember when I was Vice-Chairman of the Social Club in S.4, we voted for Gayaza, Nabbingo and Namagunga. We used to have a lot of interaction because we had the Scripture Union, YCS, Debating and we used to go to Namagunga. Those were our friends. Our enemies were Namilyango, they used to call us weevils, and we were calling them fumblers.
The Eagle: What was SMACK known for besides academics?
Mr. Mbiire: We were the best at basketball, football, athletics and Table tennis. I want to resurrect basketball fully, we were the best, Kisubi was very good.
The Eagle: Any bad memories?
Mr. Mbiire: When a student drowned at Nabinonya beach, it is one of my worst memories in Kisubi it scared me. Then the food was very bad, but they tried their best. My worst experience was when the water pump blew and it was really terrible.
The Eagle: Any advice to the SMACK students?
Mr. Mbiire: Habits got in school live on. Be careful of what you do now. You may do it for fun but it will follow you. Remember God. You must also have a plan. Apply your brains in the right direction. Aim for the sky you will get the ceiling, aim for the ceiling. Man is the architect of his own destiny.


Charles Mbire (centre) with Brick N Lace and his daughters Nadia and Thandiwe (extreme left and right) at his residence in Nakasero
MONEY talks they say so when one man, who apparently has little trouble spending it says he wants one of the hottest musical groups on the international scene performing at a private party in the comfort of his residence, oh, they will listen! On New Year’s Eve, Charles Mbire, the MTN (Uganda) chairman and only Ugandan with a (5%) stake in the South African firm, summoned the multi-genre Jamaican duo Brick N Lace to his swanky Nakasero residence before their Hotel Africana do.
Apparently, Mbire’s daughters Nadia and Thandiwe, who both attend high school in the UK and are huge fans of the singers, had told their dad they wanted to have a private audience with their idols.
As such, Brick N Lace were hosted by the Mbire girls to a dinner at the house before they proceeded to the gardens where they performed to a select audience of Nadia and Thandiwe’s friends whose parents read like a list of who’s who on the society scale.
There was Fred Mugenga, heir apparent to the Mugenga empire, the Bunyeyezis, Kigongos, Col. Elly Kayanja, Eng. John Nasisira and Amelia Kyambedde’s. children. We don’t know how much Mbire paid the girls to perform but we hear they charged about sh37m for their commercial shows.



Libyan president Col. Muammar Gadaffi was mind-blown by Charles Mbire’s plush residence. The new exquisite look of the billionaire’s mansion, its secure and vantage location and lush green compound impressed Gadaffi during his four-day visit to Uganda in March.
Mbire had reportedly had his mansion refurbished, refurnished and redesigned by Rouche Bou Bou, world renowned home designers from France.
We also told you that Gaddafi had stayed at the same residence the three times he has been to Uganda.
Well, we have heard the Libyan leader’s fascination went so far, he actually asked Mbire for the plan of his mansion and has since reportedly contracted Clenco & Associates, a top South African architectural and design firm to replicate the same house in Libya.
Mbire used the exact same design for his villa in Kabale. He has since constructed a helipad on the land and is planning to turn the house, which overlooks Kabale town, into a country resort hotel. Hmm…

New Vision (Kampala) - Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200803240230.html
Uganda: Mbire Hosts Libyan Leader Gadaffi
Elizabeth Agiro
22 March 2008
Kampala — THE Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gadaffi, opted to stay at the home of Uganda's richest man instead of the plush presidential suites which were spruced up for the Commonwealth summit last year.
Sources said Gadaffi decided to stay at Charles Mbire's home in Nakasero during his four-day visit to Uganda last week due to its green lush setting and better security. The other heads of state he invited to the opening of the Gadaffi National Mosque were booked into various hotels in the city.

Charles Mbire
He started his career in 1985 as managing director of Pop-In Industries Limited and four years later moved on to become the Uganda resident representative of the Hyundai Corporation.
After a 6-year stint there he became chairman of Uganda Inflight Service Limited, a joint venture between Uganda Airlines Corporation, Fecis (Pty)Ltd, Efforte Corporation and Sunco Limited before becoming Chairman of the Board of Directors of MTN Uganda in 1998 in a joint venture between MTN (Pty)Ltd, Telia AB (Sweden), Tri-Star SARl and Mbire's investment company, Invesco (Uganda) Limited.MTN, he says, was the clinch. For one thing, it allowed him to pursue an obsession: human development and empowerment.
On this elementary economic logic, MTN, at the behest of Mbire, took a gamble in Uganda's largely informal market where other mobile service providers threw caution to the wind.
His timing seemed impeccable. We had another operator in the country charging $2,500 just to get connected. They would also close on a Saturdays and Sundays and there was no aftercare service, he says. The result: A large segment of Uganda's informal market was untapped; beyond the chimera of orthodox risk analysis, a competitor was opportune.
To Mbire, true innovation takes guts: The soft underbelly of what was, in essence, an expensive and uncompetitive monopoly was an opportunity to reload. So he geared up what became his signature investment arm, Invesco (Uganda) Limited, and looked for a company that could exploit the market with an affordable and resourceful offering to ordinary Ugandans.
As for spin-offs, take a drive out of Kampala towards Entebbe, and roadside bazaars nestle alongside a blur of squat makeshift cellular outlets bearing the yellow MTN signature as far as the eye can see.
Indirectly, MTN employs more than 15,000 people and, with 1,5 million active phones on its database, is the biggest taxpayer in the country an estimated 97 billion shillings over the past 7 years.
True, a rough calculation of 1,5 million phones charging on average once a day at the average electricity unit cost nets roughly $750,000 a day in revenue.
That's a small fortune in an underdeveloped economy. But the development spin-off is a lot more gratifying. Mbire's face beams with adoration for an ailing woman in a rural village who, because of the parlous state of infrastructure and exorbitant cost of a medical consultation, had no recourse to basic medical care.
Estimated fortune USD$55m



Ugandan entrepreneur extraordinaire, Charles Mbire
Source: http://www.franklin.ws/node/213
Ugandan entrepreneur extraordinaire, Charles Mbire, will be celebrating soon enough though yet another triumph in a long line of accomplishments that has marked the man. After a few years of research and development, laborious deal-making, and downright hard manual labour, his business partners and management team at Afro-Alpine Pharma Limited (AAPL) are ready to harvest the anti-malarial herb, Artemisinin, in the sub-tropical Kabale district of Uganda.
The story is not exactly front page news not yet anyway. But if Mbire gets the marketing of the drug in Uganda on stream as planned, it might very well become a blockbuster. With the manufacture of the drug projected to retail at $2 per treatment compared with $8 on the international market, AAPL is a front-runner in a desperate bid to bring the novel compound to market in a rollout plan that could net millions of US dollars, eventually.
Money does matter after all. But that's not what inspires Charles Mbire to wake up every morning. Like his involvement in, and stewardship of, MTN Uganda and the myriad other business ventures in which he's been known to dabble, he didn't come to AAPL for the rich stock options, free cappuccinos or glitzy staff parties. Far from the glamour and glitz, Uganda was always going to be enormously risky business in which few experimental compounds make it to a desolate market.
Mbire joined AAPL as a shareholder because the company would help him solve the biggest problem facing Uganda and the rest of the continent. The extraction process is a complicated one, but, very simply, if he succeeds in manufacturing the Artemisinin compound, artemether, on a massive scale he would have achieved nothing short of a medical milestone a first line of treatment known as Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) against malaria. The results have shown an unprecedented 98 percent efficacy in Vietnam in fighting the dominant strains of the malaria parasite, a scourge that is arguably bigger than HIV/AIDS.
And as if to end any lingering doubt, some 7,500km away in the tropical-medicine wing of Mahidol University's hospital in Bangkok, a laboratory experiment late last year on the blood of a malaria patient by the chief of development for India's largest drug company saw almost no malaria parasites where just two days earlier there had been hordes of them. Artemisinin, an ancient Chinese fever remedy, is thought to work by reacting with itself to the iron in red blood cells. When the parasites invade, the drug attacks them and they die. Because the drug works quickly, then dissipates within a few days, it is combined with longer lasting synthetic compounds manufactured in tablet form. The final product ‘ACT’ destroys residual parasites.
Which is what has Mbire all fired up. He says ACT offers hope to malaria patients, some 500 million of which are now afflicted with the parasite annually up from 25 million in 1997, 80 percent of the total number of recorded cases in Africa alone, according to a survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The reason for the staggering rise, says Mbire, is that the parasite in African countries has mutated over the years, so much so that it's become resistant to traditional Western medicinal remedies such as cloroquin, mefloquin and a combination of sulphadxine-pyramethamine.
Add to that the fact that conventional WHO-approved medicines can set you back roughly $35, and Mbire's enthusiasm for ACT needs very little explanation. Death is writ large for millions who fall foul of malaria, not because there's no cure, but because there's been no aggressive commitment by huge multinational pharmaceutical companies to manufacture ACT on a massive scale at an affordable rate to the average African.
Fact is, industry wide, 90 percent of drugs in clinical development never reach the market, including half of those that make it to late-stage clinical trials. That's probably why so many big drug companies are running out of new drugs.
But the total cost of developing the drug, which could reach millions of dollars, is remarkably little compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars Western companies typically spend on a new remedy.
In the scheme of things, a disease of the poor is not an obvious choice for Western pharmaceuticals. It's estimated that the value of the global anti-malarial market is $400mn a year, including Western travellers heading into malarial regions far smaller than the whopping $1bn scale needed for a blockbuster. Sales on ACT would therefore be far less, particularly since it would have to be provided to the poor at minimal cost.
So the ACT drug is small fry for Western pharmaceuticals who would rather invest their R&D budgets on propriety drugs for Western markets with typically Western problems with huge returns of course.
Scoffing at big Western pharmaceuticals has therefore become something of a rallying cry at AAPL: Using market data or return-on-investment analysis to drive the business is strictly taboo. At the end of the day, we want to make drugs to cure malaria, says Mbire.
That's the transcendent issue. Not that this company considers itself a uniquely philanthropic endeavour. In the end, business drives business; Mbire acknowledges this.
The strategy: Fund a massive rollout of the drug, ideally at a subsidised rate of $1 per treatment, and the volume of sales will eventually equal affordability.
Mbire's investment in AAPL is not purely accidental, however. His personal agenda is something of a libertarian crusade to save lives, with the business side of things the enabler. After suffering the gut-wrenching physical trauma of the disease, Mbire who, unlike most ordinary Ugandans, was fortunate enough to have had recourse to effective treatment, was on the prowl for something that would make a meaningful difference to peoples' lives.
Uganda, with its tropical rains, was Vietnam's climatic clone. There's a runt joke about an old man with a walking stick, Mbire says, cracking up the ceiling of his office with laughter. He stood still long enough for his walking stick to grow roots. Or, the witty one-liner, If you throw a button in the ground it will grow a shirt, he quips, laughing all the while.
Mbire recalls being asked whether he'd be interested in a malaria solution that would make it cheaper and easier to scale up and soon found one of his companies, Sunco Limited, in a partnership with the Asian-based firm, Afro-Pharma, that would see the launch of a $4,2mn project for the production of Artemisia annua, the compound used in the Artemisinin derivative, artemether.
Chauhan, now the Afro-Alpine managing director, says $2,2mn was injected in the cultivation of the crop in Kabale, Kisoro, Kanungu, Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts. The business model was a deductive logic of necessity eliminating choice: Whereas the raw material was produced in China and Vietnam, shipped to Europe and hit the shelves of pharmacies here at $8 per treatment, we're producing the drug from A-Z at an affordable price to the poor, says Chauhan.
Now it's almost harvest time and Mbire's even willing to let the poor have a slice of his stake in AAPL in his campaign to ultimately give the poor free treatment.
This centrality of human life in Mbire's estimation of things is perhaps his key character trait. There's nothing flamboyantly shrewd and elusive often the case with business moguls about the man. Interviewing him in his Kampala office, with his temperate disposition and calm voice, is like having a long chat with an old friend. It's easy for a discussion about human tragedy to morph into a fascinating narrative on cellular telephony as a development agent, or empowering people to fish for tilapia (a staple dish in Uganda) in fishponds in their backyards.
And that's not just hot air. He's been there, done that all in a dizzying run of investments over the years. A business whiz with an Honours degree in economics from Essex University and MBA from Liecester in the UK, he's dazzled the East African business community with his deal-making and slew of complex financial transactions.
He started his career in 1985 as managing director of Pop-In Industries Limited and four years later moved on to become the Uganda resident representative of the Hyundai Corporation.
After a 6-year stint there he became chairman of Uganda Inflight Service Limited, a joint venture between Uganda Airlines Corporation, Fecis (Pty)Ltd, Efforte Corporation and Sunco Limited before becoming Chairman of the Board of Directors of MTN Uganda in 1998 in a joint venture between MTN (Pty)Ltd, Telia AB (Sweden), Tri-Star SARl and Mbire's investment company, Invesco (Uganda) Limited.MTN, he says, was the clinch. For one thing, it allowed him to pursue an obsession: human development and empowerment.
On this elementary economic logic, MTN, at the behest of Mbire, took a gamble in Uganda's largely informal market where other mobile service providers threw caution to the wind.
His timing seemed impeccable. We had another operator in the country charging $2,500 just to get connected. They would also close on a Saturdays and Sundays and there was no aftercare service, he says. The result: A large segment of Uganda's informal market was untapped; beyond the chimera of orthodox risk analysis, a competitor was opportune.
To Mbire, true innovation takes guts: The soft underbelly of what was, in essence, an expensive and uncompetitive monopoly was an opportunity to reload. So he geared up what became his signature investment arm, Invesco (Uganda) Limited, and looked for a company that could exploit the market with an affordable and resourceful offering to ordinary Ugandans.
As for spin-offs, take a drive out of Kampala towards Entebbe, and roadside bazaars nestle alongside a blur of squat makeshift cellular outlets bearing the yellow MTN signature as far as the eye can see.
Indirectly, MTN employs more than 15,000 people and, with 1,5 million active phones on its database, is the biggest taxpayer in the country � an estimated 97 billion shillings over the past 7 years.
True, a rough calculation of 1,5 million phones charging on average once a day at the average electricity unit cost nets roughly $750,000 a day in revenue.
That's a small fortune in an underdeveloped economy. But the development spin-off is a lot more gratifying. Mbire's face beams with adoration for an ailing woman in a rural village who, because of the parlous state of infrastructure and exorbitant cost of a medical consultation, had no recourse to basic medical care.
The woman's son, a general practitioner living in the US and long-time friend of Mbire's, whom she'd not talked to in five years, sent a parcel of clothes a couple of years ago and asked Mbire to deliver it to her.
Mbire handed her a phone, taught her to use the gadget and not only is she getting free telephonic diagnoses and medical prescriptions from her son, she's also renting her phone to villagers at the cost of a call and turning a pretty penny as a small-time entrepreneur.
By this time Mbire was already toiling away on several value-adding projects, including the possibility of starting a helicopter charter service on a lease arrangement in Uganda to fill the vacuum.
Around the same time he was well under way with his next deal, a joint venture between local fish processor and exporter Ngege Limited, Mbire's Sunco Investments and Genomer Uganda, a subsidiary of Norwegian Firm Genomer, one of the world's leading life science-based aqua-cultural companies.
After that came East Africa Fish Farming Limited, another joint venture between Seatankec, a Norwegian fish farming company, the Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Association and Mbire of Polino Holdings Limited to invest in a fish farming initiative to establish hatcheries, fish farms, and a processing plant for the cultivation and export of fish.
As wacky as it sounds, Mbire now has his sights on fishponds for each Ugandan household. That would be the ultimate winning scenario. Think about it, a fish pond in your back yard is a source of subsistence, he says, intuitively.
The real problem has always been the cost of manufacturing the ACT tablet. Four Western pharmaceuticals have historically had a monopoly as the only WHO-approved agents for the drug ACT. That's ironically made the drug inaccessible to the poor who need it most, says Chauhan.
But at the very least, AAPL now has the blessing of the World Health Organisation which has approved the use of the drug combination containing Artemisinin compounds after Novartis Pharma AG, the previously approved pharmaceutical to produce its co-formulated artemether product, Coartem, to WHO for supply to the public sector of malaria-endemic countries backed out in 2001.
Trouble was Norvatis's failure to honour its pledge to produce 60 million treatment courses of Coartem because of the shortage of artemether from its Chinese and Vietnamese suppliers.
The real opportunity for AAPL may be in breaking traditional alliances with Western pharmaceuticals and forming partnerships with Asian pharmaceuticals hungry for new compounds.
The potential to expand beyond Uganda to other African countries and export markets is huge. According to latest WHO estimates, the world needs 500 million ACT treatments. In 2005 WHO only produced 60 million treatments simply because of a shortfall in supply of the raw material.
AAPL does have much grander plans than simply to become part of the global production pipeline and cost structure of the pharmaceutical industry.
Mbire and his partners have already met half the challenge: producing artemether in large quantities, large enough to bring the cost per treatment to affordable levels to the poor in Uganda.
Which is the other half of the challenge: for AALP to slide into the gap created by Norvatis's departure from the scene. That left only a handful of WHO-approved companies in the world that understood the necessary chemistry of the drug and distribution network in Africa. An early ally was Cipla which had used a similar process to produce a synthesised version of Artemisinin called RbX11160 in India and had a distribution network for AIDS drugs and other generics in the developing world. In fact in the late 90s Cipla was praised for defying big pharmaceutical patents and selling generic versions of AIDS drugs cheaply in Africa, charging $2 instead of $50 per treatment.

Mbire gets shares in limping RVR - Source:http://www.independent.co.ug/index.php/business/business-briefs/2543-mbire-gets-shares-in-limping-rvr
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 08:40 By The Independent Reporters
Uganda`s Charles Mbire, was last week set to take up a 15 % stake in the Rift Valley Railways. Mbire has been invited by the shareholders of the Rift Valley Railways to the buy shares. The RVR concession agreement was amended to allow the participation of Uganda into shareholding. Investor appetite for RVR is growing following the realisation that the railway line will be the main transport corridor for crude oil exports from Uganda’s recently discovered oil industry. The entry into RVR of Uganda`s Charles Mbire will have major implications for the battle between TransCentury and Citadel because contrary to the position taken by Kenya, Kampala has embraced the Egyptians.
Zain’s Kuwait Chief Executive calls it quits
Kuwaiti-based Zain’s chief executive, Saad al-Barrak, has called it quits re-igniting rumours of the possible sale of Zain Africa operations.
Zain was last year a headlines maker after its July 2009 announcement that it was looking at its options in Africa, including a possible sale of its networks there. At Zain Uganda Fred Massade the head of corporate affairs said they had received a circular about Al-Barrak`s resignation and nothing more.
Al-Barrak has been with Zain since 2002 and has been the main driving force behind the firm’s massive expansions and acquisitions. Over the past few years, Zain expanded rapidly by paying billions of dollars for huge acquisitions and has operations in 23 countries in Africa and the Middle East. During Al-barracks tenure of office, Zain`s customer base rose from around one million subscribers to about 72 million as of today.
In spite of its strong growth, the global financial meltdown forced some of Zain`s main shareholders, notably the biggest private investor, Al-Khorafi Group, to offer to sell a majority stake in the firm.

7 comments:

  1. I simply admire this guy.....!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Quite motivational!!!

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  3. Namanya Ronald ReaganSeptember 2, 2010 at 4:54 AM

    Mbire just inspires me every other day even when such achievements seem miles away. But who knows, the rich all started small but with big dreams en hugged risk at all times!!!
    Ronald Reagan

    ReplyDelete
  4. It all started with one step. What an inspirer indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mbiire is living the "dream" kudos to him...he deserves all the best.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have something for mr Mbire, the domain name www.mbire.com , simply click on the domain name and you will find more information.

    Talk to me: info@makutano.biz

    0754157622

    ReplyDelete
  7. That fool is just a thief... He should be in Luzira.

    ReplyDelete