From spending nights, cruising speed boat on Lake Victoria to driving plush cars, such is the life of Mohamid Hamid, popularly known as Aya Brother.
Hamid is the brain behind the imposing Hilton Hotel, located on top of Nakasero Hill, formerly UBC.
Imposing Hamid came to Uganda in 1987 after his high school days to visit my elder brother, Mohammed El Hamid, the owner of Pan Afric Impex. He was supposed to proceed to the US for my university education on the advice of my father.
“But I fell in love with the country and decided to stay,” Hamid said.
After working with Pan Afric Impex for some time, Hamid decided to start his own company, Pan Afric Commodities, in the early 1990s.
The company imported all sorts of items like vehicle tyres, juices and wheat flour.
Through Aya flour, Hamid influenced the popularity of chapatti as a meal of choice among Ugandans.
After realising there was a big demand for wheat locally, Hamid bought a milling machine from Premiere Mills, a firm owned by businessman Sudhir Ruparelia in industrial area, Kampala.
He then moved the machinery to Kawempe, where he had acquired a 15-acre piece of land in 1997.
“I made a lot of profit trading in general merchandise and by the time I decided to move into manufacturing, I had accumulated enough capital. I spent about $1.5m (about sh3.5b now) to set up the industry. The machinery alone cost $1.3m,” he said.
In 2000, with the help of a loan from the Export Import Bank, he bought more mills and expanded into the bakery and biscuits-making sections.
“As a manufacturer, I soon realised the cost, time and inconvenience of getting a decent transporter for our raw materials from Mombasa to the factory. So, we decided to start our own transport company called Fifi Transport in 2004.
Today, we have a fleet of over 200 trucks ranging from small three-tonne trucks to 60-tonne trucks serving mainly our internal transport needs. However, occasionally, we hire them out for commercial use.
Hamid also owns a company called AYA Investments, which invests in big local projects like the Hilton Kampala Hotel.
In Dubai, he owns a trading company that deals in general merchandise across Middle East and Africa called Aya Mohammed Trade plus a real estate firm in Manhattan, New York, USA, that deals in both residential and commercial properties.
Considering all my businesses, I will put it at about $400m.
I juggled business, books at eight years
The AYA estate
AYA Investments (U) Ltd Manages a diversified portfolio of industrial and commercial real estate. One of the division’s principal projects is the development of Hilton Hotel.
AYA Mills operates one of the largest commercial milling facilities in East Africa and is home to some of the region’s finest flours. The facilities utilise modern equipment, including state-of-the-art Ocrim mills, which are capable of producing up to 8,500 tonnes of flour per month.
Last year, the AYA Group established the first gold mining facility in Uganda. The project is expected to expand its operations into the processing of metal from other east African nations.
Aya Biscuits operates the newest and most modern biscuit-making facility in Uganda, utilising the latest Polin Machinery imported from Italy.
Pan Afric Commodities Ltd
The leading millers of wheat flour in Uganda, the company’s mills are located in Kawempe, Kampala. Pan Afric Commodities was one of the 10 finalists in the 2005 Investor of the Year Awards.
FIFI Transport Uganda Ltd
A leading hauler in the east and central African region, the company has state-of-the-art trucks capable of handling containerised and bagged freight. Major routes of FIFI Transport include the port of Mombasa in Kenya and Kampala. They also operate in Southern Sudan.
Aya Bakery (U) Ltd
The largest commercial bakery in Uganda, the company supplies fresh bakery products daily to Kampala and central Uganda.
Hilton Hotel a landmark in Kampala
A few years ago, Hamid ventured into hotels and is setting up Hilton Hotel, one of the most visible landmarks in Kampala.
The hotel will be operated by Hilton International.
It is being designed to the highest international standards with a dramatic palm-lined road that leads to a domed five-storey atrium and a sculpted 22-storey tower.
“We are hoping that this will become an internationally-known landmark for Kampala,” he said.
The hotel consist about 272 luxury suites and guest-rooms offering an unparalleled range of facilities with three restaurants and two bars for entertainment, a large health and beauty spa, conference and meeting facilities for over 1,000 delegates and ballrooms for private functions.
Upon completion, how much do you estimate it will have cost?
The entire project will cost $150m (sh350b) by the time it’s done and it will be complete this year.
Hamid says he started the project in 2006 and he was inspired by a number of factors.
“First, I have travelled around the globe and have hosted a number of my friends and business partners here, who always wondered why such a beautiful country doesn’t have a landmark like a five-star hotel. This is one of the reasons I decided to undertake this project,” he said.
“Secondly, I make a lot of money from this country. I feel obliged to add something of a landmark; something that will have my name on 50-70 years from now for all the good I have got from Uganda.”
The project will employ over 2,000 Ugandans.
The luxurious life
Hamid is not only good juggling business, but also family. He is the only rich guy in Uganda who is happily living with two women under one roof. His tow beautiful women live huge, two in one mansion, located in Kololo and valued at $4m 99(roughly Shs10bn). It was constructed by Roko industries at a cost of Shs3bn.
He was several kids and the first born studies at Washington University while the second born, Fifi is still in high school.
Insanely beautiful mansion boasts of a squash court, bowling alley, tennis court, 20-seat screening room, two huge swimming pools among other luxurious stuff.
On top a beautiful mansion, Aya likes posh cars and speed boats. He recently acquired a $100,000(roughly Shs250m). He spends his free time cruising speed boats on Lake Victoria, from Entebbe to Kenya board, with friends.
When it comes to luxury cars, he owns a range rover 2014 Vogue (Shs400m), Range Rover 2013 signature (Shs300m) , Mercedes Benz S500(Shs350m) , BMW 7 series(Shs250m) and E16 AMG 2014(Shs700m).
By Rowland Nkaheebwa