Hamis Kigundu, a Ugandan tycoon said “I had always dreamt as a child to visit the United States and the White House in particular.” He ventured into import trading mainly of textile material to Uganda and slowly grew in the business from which he launches a multi-billion real estate company Ham Group of Companies.
At only 38 years, Kiggundu, commonly known as ‘Ham’, is a Ugandan businessman, investor, real estate and property developer, philanthropist, and author of two books; ‘Success and Failure Based on Reason and Reality,’ published 2018, and his newly published book ‘Reason as the World Masterpiece‘, 2021.
His real estate company has already built a stadium, malls, residence village among others. The multi-billion state-of-the-art building dubbed the “Ugandan White House” is located in Akright City, Bwebajja, Entebbe.
Drawing inspiration from the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States of America, Hamis Kiggundu’s lookalike project houses his Ham Agro-Processing Industries Headquarters.
On the surface, this extravagant display of opulence appears purely like a vanity project. In contrast, there is a lot more depth to the property tycoon’s motivations.
Ham believes in personal responsibility and leading by example. He built his Uganda White House out of love for his country as a symbol to all Ugandans and Africans to invest in their homelands.
According to Ham, Ugandans and Africans as a whole don’t invest in their own countries. We’ve been brainwashed by our western-imposed educational systems and western social media platforms into thinking that the West is somehow superior to us.
“From the time Africans go to school, we start dreaming of going to America or Europe for the chance of a better life. We study so hard, then work equally as hard for an opportunity to get out of Africa. We leave our homeland and head for the West, then work towards the development of these western countries, leaving Africa our motherland in absolute poverty,” he says.
Ham says it doesn’t have to be this way, so long as Africans change their mindset and focus on building their homeland. The answer lies in the state of reasoning out what needs to be done and putting it into reality.
His Uganda White house stands as a symbol to his fellowmen that if the US can build it there, we can build it here.
“Why leave and go to the US when we can bring the US here to us?” he says. “We have to be willing to change our mindset. We have to be willing to reason,” he adds.
According to young business magnet, his Ugandan White House is a regional tourist attraction and a symbol that you don’t need to go to America to tour the White House since the development is already set in the Pearl of Africa.
Ham explains that God has blessed Uganda with a green landscape across 80% of its land surface area, tropical climate and fertile soils, which is why it’s called the Pearl of Africa.
However, despite all these natural God-given resources, Uganda is still ranked among the world’s poorest countries.
Likewise, Africa is naturally gifted with abundant natural resources. From human resources, precious metals, oil and gas, favourable climate and fertile soils. “Yet today, there are more Africans that have flown to the west willingly to work than when they were taken by force as slaves,” he exclaims.
Which leads us to question; why is Africa poor even though it holds the largest percentage of the world’s natural resources and deposits?
According to Ham, it is the mindset of focusing on one’s advancement while not supporting those around you that is keeping Uganda chained. “Most Ugandans dream of getting a four-wheel drive as the solution for dealing with the potholes in our streets, instead of focusing on fixing the potholes,” he says.
It simply means Africans at home and in the diaspora need to stop investing in foreign lands and individual satisfaction at the expense of their people and land.
Ham believes it is possible for Africa to self-sustain. “Africans have the capacity transform from being merely consumers to stranding as producers,” he says.
“Instead of spending on imported finished products, we should start investing in production because we hold the resources, raw materials and human capital to run the factories,” he adds.
Investing in production is the driving motivation behind his Ham Agro-Processing Industries. In a bid to add value to the country’s vast agricultural production and increase farmers’ incomes, the property tycoon is putting up one of the most advanced agro-processing plants in the country.
According to Ham, the plant, strategically located just 7 minutes from the Entebbe International Airport, cost over $156 Million to set up. It serves as a model factory for a project he plans to roll out across the country based on agricultural zoning.
“Agriculture stands as a clear and direct gateway for Uganda from poverty to prosperity,” he says.
Ham believes that if Uganda is to develop, it should be a collective effort from all Ugandans, and agriculture is the way forward. “With our good climate, fertile soils and young, energetic population, agriculture is a means for the youth not only to earn income but contribute to the tax base and increase the national income as well,” he says.
That is why, through leading by example, Ham is looking to invest in 10 agro-processing plants around the county to employ as many Ugandan youths as he can.
“What should make a Ugandan proudly a Ugandan should be their contribution to the progress and prosperity of their motherland, Uganda,” he says.
Ham believes that if Uganda is to achieve reasonable progress, it has to be a joint collective effort from within the hearts and minds of Ugandans, reflected by productive output on the ground. And he is willing to lead the way.