Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Angola president's daughter 'Africa's first female billionaire'

updated 12:13 PM EST, Fri January 25, 2013
Africa's first female billionaire is the daughter of Angolan president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.
Africa's first female billionaire is the daughter of Angolan president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Daughter of Angola's president named by Forbes as Africa's first female billionaire
  • Isabel Dos Santos has widespread business interests in Angola and Portugal
  • Angola is Africa's second-largest oil producer
  • The country is one of the most unequal societies in the world

(CNN) -- Businesswoman Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of long-serving Angolan president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, is Africa's first female billionaire, according to business publication Forbes.

The 40-year-old's investments in publicly traded companies in Portugal, including shares in a cable TV firm, as well her assets in at least one Angolan bank, "have pushed her net worth over the $1 billion mark," said the magazine, known for its annual rich lists.

Her first business endeavor was in 1997 when she opened a restaurant in Angola's capital, Luanda, according to the magazine. Since then, she's expanded her business interests to a number of industries, sitting on the boards of several Angolan and Portuguese companies.

A former Portuguese colony, Angola is the second largest oil producer in the continent. Over the last decade, the southwestern African country has emerged from the wreckage of a 27-year civil war to become one of the continent's major economic players.

Angola has embarked on a major reconstruction program following the end of a 27-year vicious civil war in 2002. The oil-rich country holds general elections Friday. Angola has embarked on a major reconstruction program following the end of a 27-year vicious civil war in 2002. The oil-rich country holds general elections Friday.
Angola's construction boom
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
Angola rises from the ashes of 27-year civil war Angola rises from the ashes of 27-year civil war

Read also: Angola's post-war generation

President Dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979, has presided over Angola's post-war economic growth and rebuilding efforts. He won a new term last year when the ruling MPLA party was declared winner of the August 31 elections.

Greased by growing oil revenues and China's credit lines of billions of dollars, Angola's economy rocketed by an average annual growth of 17% from 2004 to 2008 before falling to single-digit figures after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Read also: Where is Angola's oil money?

But despite the heady financial data and the progress made since the end of the war in 2002, Angola still remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. The country, which has a population of some 18 million people, ranks 148th out of 187 countries in the U.N.'s Human Development Index.

Read also: Is oil-rich Angola a development success?

Corruption is also prevalent, with Angola ranked 157th out of 176 countries and territories on Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index.

"Corruption is a major problem and the perception of corruption in Angola by investors is increasing," says Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at London-based think tank Chatham House.

According to Forbes, Isabel Dos Santos is the biggest shareholder in Zon Multimedia, the biggest cable TV operator in Portugal, owning a 28.8% stake. She also has a 19.5% holding at Banco BPI, one of Portugal's largest publicly traded banks.

Forbes said that in Angola, the president's daughter sits on the board of Banco BIC and is reported to own a 25% stake in the bank.

"There is nothing wrong with the president's daughter being a business entrepreneur as long as she's obtained those contracts in an open and competitive process," says Vines.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Marketplace Africa
updated 7:05 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
 General view of an oil offshore platform owned by Total Fina Elf in the surroundings waters of the Angolan coast 15 October 2003. The 11 members of the OPEC oil cartel have agreed to slash output by a million barrels a day, the OPEC president said 11 October 2006, in a move aimed at shoring up sliding world crude prices.
Six of the top 10 global oil and gas discoveries last year were made in Africa -- but can these finds transform the continent?
updated 6:21 AM EST, Thu February 20, 2014
A South African app allows buyers to pay for goods using their phone, without having to worry about carrying cash or credit cards.
updated 10:23 AM EST, Wed February 19, 2014
A Zambian computer tablet -- known as the ZEduPad -- is trying to open up the country's information highway.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Thu January 9, 2014
South Africa may be the dominant force in Africa's wine economy, but other countries are making inroads in the industry.
updated 6:55 AM EST, Mon January 6, 2014
Commuters aboard an overloaded passenger train 03 February 2004, celebrate after arrival at the train station in the centre of the capital Nairobi.
A $5 billion Chinese-funded railway project in Kenya could transform transport in east Africa.
updated 7:27 PM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
African astronomers want world-class observatories to inspire young scientists and build a tech economy.
updated 5:29 AM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
A new report praises South Africa's economic transformation since apartheid. But enormous challenges remain.
updated 6:56 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
Landlocked Burundi is looking to compete on the international stage as one of Africa's most prestigious coffee producers and exporters.
updated 12:18 PM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
zword app zombies
From zombie spelling games to walking snails, Africa's mobile gaming industry is taking off across the continent from Uganda to South Africa.
updated 6:46 AM EST, Fri November 8, 2013
Ethiopia is turning to renewable energy technology as the East African country looks to become a powerhouse for its regional partners.
updated 9:22 AM EST, Wed November 13, 2013
Animated cartoons are helping Kenyan companies to engage with audiences and lure international investors.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 4, 2013
Downtown Johannesburg -- once a no-go zone riddled with crime -- is undergoing urban restoration.
updated 10:12 AM EDT, Wed October 16, 2013
Using helicopters and night-vision, crime syndicates are taking rhino poaching to a new level and conservation parks are struggling to keep up.
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Thu October 10, 2013
Eko Atlantic city design concept
A lack of infrastructure has hindered Africa's development, but a series of megaprojects could change that.
Each week Marketplace Africa covers the continent's macro trends and interviews a major player from the region's business community.
ADVERTISEMENT