KAMPALA, UGANDA: Renowned Ugandan Businessman Apollo Nyegamehe alias Aponye on Thursday perished in a fatal road crash at Itojo in Ntungamo along the Mbarara-Kabale highway.
Aponye was headed to Rukiga, his home district when his vehicle, a Toyota V8 Land Cruiser (UBF300Z) crashed into the stationary truck at around 9:30 pm killing him on the spot.
The self-made billionaire philanthropist who made a name under his Aponye Limited Business Empire leaves behind a legacy of wealth and influence in the trade and manufacturing sector.
Aponye started his entrepreneurial journey as a wheelbarrow pusher in Kabale but at the time of his tragic death, he had built a household name in the country and had become popularly known for the business name Aponye (an initial of his two names Apollo Nyegamehe).
Apollo was born in Muhanga Town Council, Rukiga District, where he grew up and started engaging in business in the early 80s.
He went on to become a billionaire and his business ventures under the conglomerate Aponye Uganda Limited included; the Aponye Mall in Kampala which houses his Mega Standard Supermarket, Aponye Hotel located on Ben Kiwanuka Street, Aponye Mall in Ntinda, among others.
The Aponye Limited Business Empire
Apollo Nyegamehe began his business career in 1989 when he established Aponye (U) Ltd, a company specializing in produce buying and selling, bond facilities, and cargo transportation.
Over the years, he expanded his operations and diversified his investments, eventually amassing considerable wealth. His company became renowned for its grain trading business, milling up to 240 tonnes of grains daily and supplying them to prominent clients such as the World Food Programme (WFP).
Investments in Other Sectors
Aponye’s success extended beyond the grain trading industry. He ventured into real estate, owning properties such as the famous Aponye Building in Kampala, which hosted the Mega Standard Supermarket until it was recently acquired by another businessman due to Aponye’s inability to repay a bank loan.
Additionally, he owned Aponye Motel along William Street in Kampala and a chain of malls, including one housing Mega Standard Supermarket in the heart of Kampala’s Old Taxi Park.
Political Ambitions and Recognitions
Aponye’s business achievements were complemented by his close ties to influential figures in the Ugandan government.
He was notably associated with high-ranking officials such as the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Livingstone Ruhakana Rugunda, Governor of the Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Mutebire, business mogul Amos Nzeyi, and State Minister for Finance, David Bahati.
These connections positioned him as a valuable resource for the ruling NRM party during times of need.
At the time of his death, he was the NRM District Chairperson for Rukiga district in southwestern Uganda, while his company was one of the biggest grain suppliers to the UN’s World Food Programme, the Prime minister’s office, Police, Prisons and the East African region.
Compensation and Controversies
In 2013, Aponye was among the Ugandan traders compensated with significant sums of money by the government for losses incurred during the seven-year civil war in South Sudan. His company, Aponye (U) Limited, received $13 million as compensation for the alleged business losses suffered in the neighbouring country.
Aponye was in 2019 involved in a multi-billion cash bonanza when his company was reportedly linked to a 40 billion UGX ($11 million) payout from the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, which attracted controversy.
in 2020, he became even more popular during the Covid-19-induced after securing another multi-billion tender to supply government beans and maize flour which were distributed by the OPM to vulnerable Ugandans during that time.
Philanthropy and Social Impact
Apart from his business endeavours, Aponye was known for his philanthropic contributions.
In 2010, he purchased a portrait of President Museveni for 10 million UGX ($2,700) as part of a fundraising drive for Rushoroza Cathedral in Kabale.
Furthermore, Aponye’s company played a role in supplying maize flour to United Nations agencies and refugee camps, demonstrating his commitment to addressing humanitarian needs.
Aponye’s Net Worth
Although the real figure is not known, Aponye’s net worth is estimated to be over USD 25 million with the majority of ventures into grain trading, real estate, logistics, and hospitality propelling him to significant wealth.
The tragic loss of Aponye’s life leaves a void in the business community, and his entrepreneurial legacy will be remembered for years to come.