Business, Economics and Jobs

Isabel Dos Santos is Africa’s first woman billionaire


People walk in front of a large portrait of Angolan President Jose Eduardo de Santos with text reading 'The Architect of Peace', in the streets of Luanda on April 4, 2012.



Thanks to some savvy investing, Isabel Dos Santos, the oldest daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, has become Africa’s first woman billionaire, Forbes reported.

Recent purchases of shares in a few publicly traded companies in Portugal have increased the 40-year-old businesswoman’s net worth, according to Forbes.

Dos Santos now owns a 28.8 percent share of Portuguese media firm Zon, worth $385 million; a 19.5 percent share of Portuguese bank Banco BPI, worth $465 million; a 25 percent stake in Angola's Banco BIC, worth an estimated $160 million; and, allegedly, a 25 percent stake in Angolan telecom firm Unitel, which would be worth at least $1 billion, several telecom analysts told Forbes.

Dos Santos’ first business venture was a restaurant called Miami Beach that she opened in Luanda in 1997, when she was 24, Forbes reported. She studied engineering at King’s College in London, where she grew up following her parents’ divorce.

Her father, by the way, has been president of Angola for 33 years and the family controls a hefty share of the former Portuguese colony's economy.

GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in southern Africa Erin Conway-Smith said Luanda, Angola's capital, is one of the world's most expensive cities, bolstered by oil and diamond wealth.

"The latest cost-of-living survey by Mercer ranked it second, behind Tokyo and ahead of Osaka and Moscow. And yet the average Angolan lives in dire poverty, with a shortage of basic services such as electricity and clean drinking water," Conway-Smith said.

Angola's development has also been blighted by astronomical corruption, she said. It was listed 157th of 174 countries on Transparency International's 2012 corruption perceptions index.

"Because of this lack of transparency, it is unclear how Isabel dos Santos amassed her wealth," Conway-Smith said.

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