Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, has been invited to a Round Table discussion with Global leaders about the digitization of major industries in Africa.
Dos Santos’s invitation marks a milestone for Angola and Africa at large, as global leaders continue to recognize the continent’s vast economic potential.
The oldest daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the country from 1979 to 2017, Isabel saw her net worth reach $3 billion in 2013, according to research by Forbes, The fete makes her Africa’s first billionaire woman. Dos Santos acquired her wealth by taking stakes in companies doing business in Angola.
According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), Africa is home to nine of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies, making the continent an increasingly attractive environment for global business investment.
“South Africa in particular is seen as a vibrant country with many attractive industries and opportunities. The country has made great strides in technology, ranking second in the sub-Saharan Africa region on the Networked Readiness Index,” said the Forum.
This, said WEF, combined with the 147.7 million devices that will be networked in South Africa by 2018, provide great prospects to drive growth and enhance social and economic well-being.
In light of these developments, Dos Santos’s upcoming meeting with world leaders places Africa at an advantage. Not only is her insight expected to highlight the continent’s potential, but also encourage more foreign investment into the continent.
In spite of recent criticisms as to how she attained her wealth, Dos Santos is an active and affluent member of the business community.
In November 2015, the BBC named Isabel one of the 100 most influential women in the world.
Since 2008 she has had interests in telecommunications, media, retail, finance and the energy industry, both in Angola and in Portugal. In addition to her commercial interest in oil and diamonds, Isabel dos Santos also owns shares in the Angola cement company Nova Cimangola. Jadeium, a company held by Isabel dos Santos, acquired 4.918% of ZON Multimedia shares from Spain’s Telefonica.
Through the Netherlands-based Unitel International Holdings BV, a company controlled by Isabel dos Santos, the Angolan businesswoman is the main shareholder of ZON Multimédia with a 29% stake since July 2012.
She is member of the board of Angolan bank in Lisbon, Banco BIC Português, and through Santoro Holding she holds 20% stakes at Banco Português de Investimento (Portuguese Investment Bank).
She has other major stakes with the Angolan state oil company Sonangol through their mutual European Law holding, based in the Netherlands.
Economists the world over agree that Africa’s digital space is ripe for the plucking.
“If governments and the private sector continue to build the right foundations, the Internet could transform sectors as diverse as agriculture, retail, and healthcare, and contribute as much as $300 billion a year to Africa’s GDP by 2025,” said an excerpt from the McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) ‘Lions go Digital’ report.
MGI is part of McKinsey & Company, a United States-based management consulting company.
It is safe to assume that African Economists are looking forward to Dos Santos’s debut in the aforementioned Forum.