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Tanzania’s richest man Mohammed ‘Mo’ Dewji gives commencement speech at Georgetown University

Tanzania’s richest man also received an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

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Mohammed Dewji. ©Billionaires.Africa

Mohammed “Mo” Dewji, Tanzania’s richest man, delivered Georgetown University’s commencement address on Friday, where he also received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from President John J. DeGioia and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business.

In his speech, Dewji mused on how the interconnectedness of the world today has rendered us even more disconnected.

“Like many parents here today, I worry about the challenges facing your generation,” he said. “Today’s world makes it easier to forget our community. New apps offer simulations of human connection, but make us feel more isolated. You can sleep five feet away from a roommate, yet still feel more distanced than two isolated villages in Tanzania.”

The billionaire called on graduating students to create a sense of purpose for the environments in which which they’ll find themselves; devote themselves to service of community; and not pursue success for vainglory or the sake of self-aggrandizement.

“So, when we get lost, how do we find the natural path back to community?,” he said. “It comes from the Jesuit phrase, outlined in Georgetown’s mission statement: Cura Personalis. Care of the Person. In Tanzania, we commonly use a similar phrase: ‘Tuko Pamoja’, meaning ‘We are together.’ We are community. No matter where I travel, from rural Tanzania, to London, to right here in D.C., I’m reminded that the values of Cura Personalis and Tuko Pamoja transcend languages, politics, religions, and cultures. The need for community is universal, because it brings responsibility and purpose to our lives. Remember, graduates, your successes are not yours alone. When we focus only on ourselves, we lose sight of our community. And, eventually, we lose sight of our most precious investment: our time with each other.”

Dewji spoke of how his personal sense of purpose and desire to uplift the lives of Tanzanians inspired his decision to return to Tanzania and join his father’s commodity trading company after studying and working in the United States. Dewji also said he was dissatisfied with merely trading food and general merchandise items, and was keen to create jobs and opportunities for Tanzanians – a move that led him to pivoting his father’s company from a trading house to an industrial behemoth.

In the past two decades, Dewji has built METL Group, his family’s company, into one of the largest homegrown industrial conglomerates in East and Central Africa, with 35,000 employees and annual revenues in the region of $2 billion. The group manufactures everything from textiles and beverages to edible oils and detergents.

METL is also one of the world’s largest farmers of sisal, owns container depots and liquid storage facilities, and has an extensive property portfolio in Tanzania. Dewji, who owns 70 percent of the company today, has a net worth that Forbes estimates at $1.5 billion.

Dewji previously served as a member of parliament for Singida-Urban in Tanzania from 2005 until his retirement in 2015. He received a BSBA from the McDonough School of Business in 1998.

East Africa

Kenyan banking magnate James Mwangi loses more than $6 million in June

Mwangi’s loss comes on the heels of a reduced appetite for emerging market shares.

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Kenyan banking magnate. James Mwangi.

James Mwangi, a Kenyan multimillionaire banking magnate, recorded a Ksh715.7-million ($6.07-million) loss on his Equity Group stake in June amid a market-wide sell-off on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, as shares in the Kenyan banking group finished the first half of 2022 with a significant decline.

Mwangi’s multimillion-dollar loss in his Equity Group stake comes on the heels of a reduced appetite for emerging market shares after central banks in developed markets raised interest rates in an effort to curb the surge in inflation caused by increases in energy and food prices.

Equity Group Holdings Limited, the largest financial services group in East Africa, is the second most valuable company on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), with a market capitalization of Ksh151 billion ($1.28 billion), accounting for about 7.88 percent of the NSE’s total share capitalization.

Mwangi, who was instrumental in the growth and transformation of Equity Group, Kenya’s leading financial services provider, owns a sizable 3.38-percent stake in the company, totaling 127,809,180 shares.

Equity Group shares on the local bourse have fallen from a price of Ksh45.5 ($0.386) at the start of June to Ksh39.9 ($0.339) at the time of writing this report, resulting in a 12.3-percent loss for shareholders in just 30 days.

As a result of the double-digit decline in the group’s shares since the start of June, the market value of Mwangi’s stake has decreased by Ksh715.73 million ($6.07 million), from Ksh5.81 billion ($49.36 million) on June 1 to Ksh5.1 billion ($43.28 million) on June 30.

Equity Group shares have fallen by 24.36 percent since 2022 began, as investors continue to sell their holdings in the group despite it reporting a 36percent increase in profit from Ksh8.7 billion ($74.9 million) in the first quarter of 2021 to Ksh11.9 billion ($102.4 million) in the same period of 2022.

This follows the lender’s record-high profit of Ksh40.1 billion ($350.2 billion) in 2021, which boosted its financial position and resulted in the payment of a dividend to shareholders amounting to Ksh11.3 billion ($97.25 million).

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East Africa

Kenyan businessman Paul Ndung’u takes legal action over control of SportPesa assets

The move comes nearly two years after the SportPesa brand was relaunched.

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Kenyan businessman Paul Ndung’u.

Paul Ndung’u, a Kenyan businessman and executive, has taken legal action to join the ongoing court case to determine control over assets related to SportPesa, including the trademark and Web domains.

The Kenyan businessman’s move to determine control of assets related to the gaming platform comes nearly two years after the SportPesa brand was relaunched under Milestone, a group controlled by Ronald Karauri and other investors linked to Pevans East Africa, the defunct holding company that pioneered betting in Kenya through the SportPesa brand.

Pevans East Africa ceased operations in 2019 after losing its license for alleged non-payment of taxes totaling Ksh95 billion ($806.5 million) and concerns about increased gambling addiction.

Some of Pevans’ founders, including Karauri, relaunched the sports betting brand, prompting legal action from partners, most notably Asenath Wachera Maina, the largest Kenyan stockholder in the defunct holding company, who accused Karauri of an illegal takeover through Milestone Games.

While participating in the case that will determine the fate of SportPesa’s core assets, Ndung’u revealed that, in addition to being excluded from ownership of Milestone, which now operates the SportPesa brand, his stake in the multinational Sportpesa Global Holdings Limited (SPGHL), which owns gaming subsidiaries in key markets like Tanzania and the United Kingdom, has been diluted.

In an affidavit, Ndung’u said Karauri and Robert Macharia have interests in both Milestone and Pevans, but chose to take actions that are detrimental to the latter without disclosing their conflict of interest to the court.

Since its inception in Kenya more than six years ago, SportPesa, a leading sports news and betting technology company with operations in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Italy, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, has grown into a global gaming company with more than 500 employees and offices in six countries.

According to court documents presented by Ndung’u, the brand, which was built through heavy marketing and sports sponsorship by Pevans at a cost of more than Ksh5 billion ($42.4 million), experienced massive growth prior to the cancellation of its operating license in 2019.

Before its operating license was revoked in 2019, Pevans had distributed to partners a total of Ksh7.6 billion ($64.5 million) of its profit of Ksh12.9 billion ($109.5 million) over the previous four and a half years to June 2019.

During the 4.5-year period, Karauri and Ndung’u received dividends totaling Ksh1.835 billion ($15.8 million).

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East Africa

Court of Appeal blocks sale of real estate assets owned by Ugandan magnate Patrick Bitature

The decision comes at a crucial time for Bitature.

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Ugandan magnate Patrick Bitature.

The Court of Appeal in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, has once again blocked the advertisement and auctioning of four prime properties owned by Ugandan magnate Patrick Bitature.

The auctioning was spurred by a $30-million loan dispute between the leading businessman and Johannesburg-based Africa-focused fund manager, Vantage Capital.

The injunction issued by Christopher Gashibarake, the sitting judge at the Court of Appeal, comes after the Commercial Division of Uganda’s High Court denied an earlier application by entities owned by Bitature to prevent the sale of his properties held under Simba Properties Investment and Simba Telecom.

The recent Court of Appeal decision in the long-running loan dispute comes at a crucial time for Bitature, who has been at odds with Vantage Capital after the Africa-focused fund manager threatened to auction off his real estate empire in Kampala.

The 30-unit Elizabeth Royal Apartments in Kololo, the Skyz Hotel in Naguru, and the Moyo Close Apartments in Kololo, a residential and commercial neighborhood in Kampala, are part of the Ugandan magnate’s Kampala real estate empire.

What began as a promising partnership in 2014, when Bitature received $10 million from Vantage Capital to invest in the Moyo Close Apartments and Skyz Hotel in Naguru, has quickly devolved into an estranged alliance, with reports claiming that the businessman has yet to repay the lender.

Companies associated with Bitature are also embroiled in a separate legal battle with Absa Bank over a multimillion-dollar loan.

When confronted with the repayment of the $10-million loan that he obtained from Vantage Capital, which has tripled in value to about $30 million after interest, charges, and penalties, Bitature said difficulties arising from delays in Uganda’s oil and gas sector undermined his ability to repay.

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