Isabel dos Santos (born 20 April 1973) is an Angolan investor considered by Forbes to be the richest woman not only in Angola, but the whole of Africa. In 2013, according to research by Forbes, her net worth had reached more than three billion US dollars, making her Africa’s first billionaire woman. She is the daughter of Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled the country since 1979.
Family and education
Isabel dos Santos was born in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, the oldest daughter of Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos and his first wife, the Russian-born Tatiana Kukanova, whom he met while studying in Azerbaijan. Her father’s parents came from São Tomé and Príncipe. She studied electrical engineering at King’s College in London. There she met her husband from Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), Sindika Dokolo, a son of a millionaire from Kinshasa and his Danish wife. There were reports that when they got married in Luanda in December 2002 the wedding ceremony cost about US$4 million, with a special choir flown in from Belgium and two planes chartered to bring food from France. About 800 guests were present at the wedding, half of them relatives of the couple, and also several African presidents. Over the last 20 years she has been manager and has held management positions in companies listed on European stock exchanges. In June 2016, she was appointed by her father as chairwoman of Sonangol, the Angolan state oil company.
In March 2017, on the sidelines of the international Energy Conference CERAWeek , in Houston, Isabel dos Santos announced that Sonangol had already achieved reduced logistics costs by 50% between 2015 and 2017 under the restructuring program that is being implemented in the company.
Still on the sidelines of this meeting, Isabel dos Santos revealed that Sonangol’s vision is to “create the new generation of NOC (national oil companies)”.
In the meantime, growing discontent in Angola with José Eduardo dos Santos’ appointing several of his children to key posts, Angolan media announced she would within short leave Sonangol again. However, in an interview with Reuters at the energy conference CERAWeek, Isabel dos Santos guaranteed that her position and Sonangol’s board will remain in place. “We’re not part of the government … We have a clear mandate that has been given to the company and we will fulfill the mandate,” she said.
In April 2017, the Angolan businesswoman participated as a speaker at the LSE Africa Summit, the annual summit on the importance of Africa in the World, organized by the London School of Economics (LSE). During her speech, Isabel dos Santos said that she believes that the future is going through Africa and that “it is up to each of us to be an actor of growth and change, and also participate in the solutions for our countries.”
After her participation in this conference, Isabel dos Santos gave an interview to BBC World News where she stated: “I want to believe that I’m something beyond the brand. I am a women, I have created wealth for others, I have created a good number of jobs, and most of all, I think that on the work I do, my focus is not about wealth creating but it is about development, and bringing solutions to Angola and, hopefully, to Africa that work for us and that are sustainable.