We shall soon export to London-UBL’s Mbugua

Tuesday August 13 2019

An employee inspects beer bottles in a

An employee inspects beer bottles in a production line at Uganda Breweries Limited. According to its half year results released recently, the brewery revealed that it delivered a 12 per cent growth in revenues mainly attributed to innovations such as Uganda Waragi Coconut and Pineapple brands PHOTO by RACHEL MABALA 

By Martin Luther Oketch

What plans do you have for Uganda Breweries in Ugandan market?
First, this is not my first time in the market, I was here before as the finance executive director for close to three years.
So, I comeback with different experiences; I come back older and wise and with a lot of humility. This is an organisation that has been in Uganda for 73 years and it is going towards 74 years. It is company number 18 on the registrar of companies. This is a company that has been part and parcel of different generations over time.
The first thing you expect from UBL is to be customer-centric; that is to be obsessed with delivering quality products to our customers and enhancing the customer experience by promoting positive drinking.
The drinking age for any individual in Uganda is 18 years because we want to have a set of consumers who ensure that our brands add value to their lives.
During celebrations, we want customers to think about our brands such as Bell Lager, Guinness, Tusker Malt, Tusker Lite and Uganda Waragi.
Secondly, we want to extend our environmental foot print. We have reclaimed the acreage of deforested reserve; we have planted 45,000 trees in the past few years. We want to plant up 100,000 trees in the next years. In water, we have fed up to 2.5 million people.

How much has UBL spent on purchasing local raw materials used in beer production?
This is in line with third purpose of deepening our purpose in terms of how we grow Uganda. Deepening our purpose in terms of how we resource our locally produced products Uganda, building Uganda grow Uganda.
In 2006, only Shs1 billion was spent on resources in terms of farm inputs in Uganda.
Last year alone, Shs20 billion was invested in buying local grains. Local raw ingredients make up 84 per cent of our beer. I hope I can leave it at 90 plus.

How many farmers is UBL working with in Uganda?
We are currently working with 17,000 farmers. We have indirectly impacted our supply chain to 23,000 households. Remember in the value chain, you have the aggregators and transporters that is end-to-end in terms of the supply chain. We usually buy sorghum, barley and cassava and from the farmers.

The East African Breweries Limited report mentioned that two products of UBL, Bell Lager and Uganda Waragi contributed to the growth. What is special about these two products?
We have repositioned the pack of Bell Lager. Here we have F15 F16 because we wanted to identify with young consumers.
So, we branded in a way that appeals to younger consumers by having different packs. For Uganda Waragi, in the past three years, we have done “extension.”
Younger consumers want various options and they prefer different brand packages unlike the old people who stick to one pack. By extension, we are serving Uganda Waragi very well.

Mr Alvin M. Mbugua
Mr Alvin M. Mbugua

What is the motive behind UBL’s policy of giving six months maternity leave and one month leave for first time fathers?
We want to move away from the concept of work-life balance to life-work balance. This is a new age where we must provide an enabling work environment that supports families. Once we have that, we shall have happier people at work.
We have a six-month maternity leave policy for mothers and one month for first-time fathers. The idea behind is to give workers enough time to take care of their young families as they continue thriving at work.
Lastly, we believe in empowering women within the work place and providing equity at work place. If you look at our executive team, 60 per cent are women.


UBL has been growing at a rate of 8 per cent in the last years. Where do you see this growth in the next three years to come?
I think the confidence comes from our leaders who set up the strategy two to three years ago. I think the idea is to move in the same direction. Currently, there are 300 people full-time employees in UBL serving 40 million Ugandans.

Does UBL export its Ugandan made products?
Yes, we export to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda.
We have clinched international partners and very soon, you will see our product Uganda Waragi in London or New York.

How are you handling competition?
The market is very competitive and competition is good. What matters is how we accommodate each other in the market. The two of us in the alcohol market constitute only 32 per cent share in the market.
The remaining 68 per cent is by local brew and illicit dealers. There is still more work to do.

What is Uganda benefiting from UBL?
We are currently the fourth largest tax payer in Uganda, paying approximately Shs200 billion in taxes to the government a year.
But when you look at the other three who are the largest tax payers, [the telecoms], they came to Uganda when we were already here paying taxes. So, what does it mean in terms of who has paid the most tax? It is us.
UBL has been paying tax to the government for the last 73 years; the telecoms just came in 1998.

East African Breweries Limited (EABL) is a cross-listed company on Uganda Securities Exchange but its shares hardly trade on the exchange. Where is the challenge?
EABL is cross listed on Uganda Securities Exchange as you pointed out and we are active in the Kenyan market.
However, anyone who wants to invest in the EABL shares can do so through the local stock brokers here. When you invest in EABL shares, you are investing in UBL.

Growth rate

In the last three years, the business has registered a year on year average growth rate of over 30 per cent in volumes and 6 per cent in topline delivery which has cemented its market leadership of over 54 per cent of market share by value in total beverage alcohol.

Predecessor. Mr Alvin M. Mbugua replaces Mr Mark Ocitti who left the company at the end of July to manage Tanzania’s Serengeti Breweries Limited.