When Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appointed his daughter, Isabel, as the chairwoman of the state oil company Sonangol, he was highly criticized, with many seeing it as a way for the septuagenarian to maintain his hold on the economy even after bowing out in 2018. This is because one of his sons also heads the state sovereign wealth fund. However, Isabel says she is qualified and intends to prove that her dad made the right choice.
“It’s not because of politics,” Reuters quoted the Sonangol chief executive to have said of her appointment. “I was brought into this project because of my experience from the private business sector.”
First thing the richest woman in Africa did upon assuming office at Sonangol was to promise transparency. The 40-year-old company has been frequently criticised as opaque, despite being in charge of the resource which accounts for about two-thirds of state revenue. With Isabel dos Santos at the helm of affairs, this will change.
“We’re very committed to transparency. We’re very committed to improving our profits at Sonangol and to improving our organisation,” she told Reuters.
Isabel dos Santos also confirmed that Sonangol would be split into three units. One of the units will oversee the company’s oil operations, while another will be in charge of logistics. The third will handle the management of concessions to international energy companies.
Sonangol’s entire board had been sacked by the president and replaced with new executives as part of a plan to restructure the business so it runs more efficiently.
President Dos Santos, has himself been accused of overseeing corruption, misrule and intimidation in Angola where nearly 70 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Angola now leads Nigeria as Africa’s top crude producer as the continent’s largest economy grapples with militant attacks which have reduced output.