Isabel Dos Santos: Africa’s First Female Billionaire
By Palash R. Ghosh | January 26, 2013 1:24 AM EST
Isabel Dos Santos, the eldest daughter of the president of Angola, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, has been anointed as Africa's first woman billionaire, according to a new survey by Forbes magazine in the U.S.
Isabel, only 40, passed the $1-billion threshold after acquiring shares in a number of Portuguese-based public companies, including cable television provider, Zon Multimedia Servicos de Telecomunicacoes e Multimedia SGPS (Lisbon: ZON), and bank, Banco BPI (OTC: BBSPY).
She already owned stakes in at least one Angolan bank, Banco BIC.
With a total 28.8 percent holding in Zon -- valued at some $385 million -- she is the corporation’s largest individual stakeholder. Her 19.5 percent stake in BPI is valued at a cool $465 million.
Moreover, her 25 percent share in Banco BIC is worth at least a $160 million.
In addition, Isabel also sits on the boards of several companies in both Portugal and Angola, including telecom giant Unitel.
Forbes noted that Isabel studied mechanical and electrical engineering in London, before opening a restaurant in the Angolan capital of Luanda in 1997, when she was 24.
Agence France Presse noted that Isabel speaks many languages and is married to Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector.
Isabel’s mother, Tatiana Kukanova, is from Azerbaijan – her parents are separated.
Regarding Isabel’s dramatic acquisition of massive wealth in such a short period of time, Peter Lewis, professor of African Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, told Forbes: “It’s clear through documented work that the ruling party [of Angola] and the President’s inner circle have a lot of business interests. The source of funds and corporate governance are very murky. The central problem in Angola is the complete lack of transparency. We can’t trace the provenance of these funds.”
Indeed, Isabel’s father has ruled Angola – which is at peace now for more than a decade following 27 years of a devastating civil war -- since 1979.
Jose Eduardo Dos Santos is Africa's second-longest ruling leader after Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
BBC commented that Jose Eduardo, who was never formally elected president, has a tight grip on Angola’s armed forces, media and judiciary, but keeps a very low profile.
“When you tease out the ownership and controlling interests in Angola it reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of [the President’s] family members and party and military chiefs,” Lewis added.
Meanwhile, Angola is flush with foreign cash that has poured into its various industries, especially the lucrative petroleum sector.
“They are fixing a few roads and there are some railways and there are a lot of cranes in Luanda,” Lewis noted.
“But they are awash in cash; $5 billion has been documented in illicit financial flows.”
Despite Angola’s oil wealth, it remains one of the poorest nations on earth. According to the CIA/World Factbook, more than 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. Most of the country’s citizens live on $2 a day.
Forbes mention of Isabel was part of a larger collection of Africa’s 40 wealthiest individuals – who have an aggregate worth of some $72.9 billion, up 12 percent over the prior year. Isabel is one of only two women on the super-rich list.
The other woman is Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who owns a significant stake in Agbami oil field and has significant interests in fashion and print.
The wealthiest African for the second year in a row is Nigerian cement mogul Aliko Dangote, blessed with a net worth of $12 billion, up from $10.1 billion in November 2011.
Coming in second place, Nicky Oppenheimer, scion of South Africa’s fabulous De Beers diamond fortune, valued at $6.4 billion (although down $100 million from the past year).
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Prince Harry & Camilla Thurlow Getting Serious, St. Tropez Holiday Before The Prince’s 30th Birthday [PHOTOS]
- Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Heads to Malta For New Movie After A Whirlwind French Wedding [PHOTOS]
- Prince William & Kate Middleton Caught Flirting In A Countryside Dinner Date [PHOTOS]
- Chris Martin Getting Serious With Jennifer Lawrence, Actress Joining Coldplay Tour [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Europe, US Next on ISIS’ Hit List, Says Saudi King; Seized ISIS Laptop Reveals Terrifying Bio-Warfare Plans
- Ukraine Crisis: Putin Dangles Nuclear War Threat, US Senators Advise Sending Defensive Weapons
- Australia Races Against Potential Genocide In Iraq
- James Foley Is A Spy – Jihadi Recruiter Reveals
- Australia's Renewable Energy Industry Braces for Removal of Support
- Apple iPhone 6 Actual Release Date after September 9 Confirmed 128GB Variant with New Resolution
- Moto G2 Release Roundup: Specs, Pricing, and Release Date Details
- PlayStation 4 Killing Xbox One Costing Microsoft Millions But It's Fine
- Google Chrome 64-bit for Windows 8 and Window 7 with Mac Beta Available
- Apple iOS 8 vs Android 5.0 L: OS Wars Puts Android to Lower while Apple to Higher
- Nexus 6 on Release Date Confirmed with Phablet-Size Display as FCC Filing Hints of 5.9-Inch Screen
- Google Can Kill Samsung with Android KitKat and Android One: Here's How