Five Things You Need to Know About Africa's First Female Billionaire


Meet Isabel Dos Santos. She is 40 years old. Forbes has just named her Africa’s first female billionaire. Yes. Billion. Picture a million-dollar home. Now picture one thousand of them. A billion.

Here are some things you should know about the bedimpled billionaire:

  • Isabel dos Santos’s father, José Eduardo dos Santos, is the president of Angola. President is an interesting word for it, since he’s been in power since 1979, and the term length there is five years. In 1992 he was reelected with 49% of the votes. Seem fishy? That’s what his opponent, Jonas Savimbi thought. Savimbi called the election fraudulent. He’s dead now. Isabel’s mother is named Tatiana Kukanova; she’s from Azerbaijan. She and José are divorced. Under José, Angola has been cited for a few human rights violations, but the country has so much oil and diamonds that the cash keeps a-flowing.
  • Isabel dos Santos studied engineering at King’s College in London, then opened her first business at the age of 24. It was a restaurant in Luanda, Angola, called Miami Beach.
  • Isabel dos Santos got married in 2003. According to reports, it was a $4 million party with 1000 guests.
  • Isabel dos Santos sits on the board of and is a shareholder in several companies in Angola and Portugal — TV companies, banks, a mobile phone network.
  • It’s actually very unclear how Isabel dos Santos got so rich. Forbes asked Peter Lewis, a professor of African Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies; he explained: “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.”

And there you have it. Pretty lady, interesting family, billions and billions of murky bucks. (The Guardian notes that most people in Angola live on about $2 a day.)

Isabel Dos Santos, Daughter Of Angola’s President, Is Africa’s First Woman Billionaire [Forbes]
Isabel dos Santos, dubbed ‘princess’, named Africa’s first female billionaire [Guardian]

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