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A Review of Isabel dos Santos’ Economic and Philanthropic Efforts in 2019
As one of BBC’s Top 100 Influential Women in the World, Isabel dos Santos continued her efforts in 2019 to bring more technological advancements to Africa and other developing countries around the world. Her philanthropy efforts in 2019 also continued as she urged businesses to come together and find ways to fight against the devastating effects of climate change.
Who Is Isabel dos Santos?
Isabel dos Santos is typically described as Africa’s richest woman and one of the only black billionaire women in the world. However, there’s much more to Santos than her wealth. Santos is the eldest daughter of former Angola president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and a married mother with three children. Her business ventures started in the late 1990s with an emphasis on new and developing technologies. One of her earliest and most significant accomplishments was creating Unitel — the first mobile telephone provider in Angola.
As of 2013, her net worth was valued at three billion dollars. Each year, her empire has expanded with her fortune coming from significant stakes in different industries. Over the years, Santos has invested in oil and telecommunications corporations. Santos is a savvy businesswoman with the ability to hone in on profitable investments. She believes strongly in companies that aim to do more than just turn a profit, but can also make a positive societal contribution. Her empire continues to evolve with business goals not only for her personal holdings but also for the country as a whole. Her core values have never wavered as her investments are always made with the idea of strengthening the Angola presence throughout the world.
Isabel dos Santos travels the world to share her ideas on several topics she is an expert on. She often is a keynote speaker on panels about subjects such as technology, gender equality, and corporate social responsibility. In 2019, she made numerous public appearances at national and global conferences. Highlights from her public speaking tour include engagements at Africa Summit 2019, AfricaCom, Bloomberg Global Business Forum, and the United Nations Action Summit 2019. Through these events, Santos provided her predictions on the future of technology and a call for action to today’s youth.
Technology’s Role in Africa’s Future
In 2019, Isabel dos Santos’ passion for technology continued to take center stage. During her interview at the Africa Summit 2019, one of the key points that Santos wanted to get across is the importance of technology for Africa’s future. She believes wholeheartedly that the use of the Internet needs to be expanded across Africa to modernize the continent. She predicts that telecommunications and other technologies allow the nation to compete in a global marketplace. Without better access to technology, she believes strongly that it will hinder the growth of Africa in sectors such as banking and agriculture.
Santos believes strongly in the power of young entrepreneurs and their capacity to change the country for the better. Although she touches upon this subject during her Africa Summit interview, this theme comes up frequently in many of her talks.
During the interview, Santos discusses what goes into making a successful business. She highlighted the importance of investing in training opportunities for team members. By putting money into bettering team members, companies can get a leg up on competitors. The Africa Summit was also Santos’ opportunity to touch on a topic very important to her: gender equality. Santos has a mission to include many women as part of her teams and provide them with the same compensation as men.
Importance of Climate Change Efforts
Environmental protections have become a matter of great significance to Isabel dos Santos. Throughout the year, including at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, Santos has shared her ideas on climate change and the impact businesses can make to negate the global crisis. She believes in the importance of listening to the youth of the world and working together to come up with viable solutions to protect the planet. She states that the resources to salvage the planet are within reach, and companies must prioritize environmental change. Most importantly, she urges politicians and CEOs to not negate the opinions of today’s young people.
Climate change is undeniable, and she has pointed out how environmental issues can no longer be concealed. Social media has played a big role in how news travels. As an example, she pointed out the devastating rainforest fires and the shocking nature of seeing these images in real-time on social media sites. Although the rainforest may have been thousands of miles away from the person’s location, seeing what’s happening to our planet is alarming. Santos pointed out how climate change is everywhere, and she has witnessed it firsthand in her own community through the drought of Cunene. This drought affected everything within the Angolan communities, including agriculture and fishing.
Another point Santos has stressed is that young people need to rely on innovation to solve both business and world problems. Santos has stated that innovation doesn’t necessarily mean developing something completely new. Solutions may already be available, but the goal is to find ways to make these solutions even better.
Energy Investments and 5G Technology
AfricaCom was Santos’ opportunity to speak about technological changes that need to take place in Africa. One of her talking points was the need for more investment in energy. As she stated plainly, “Africa must invest in energy to have 5G.” She pointed out how large investments from the private sector were able to change telecommunications in Africa. If the same thing happens within the energy sector, then advancements would be possible. She pointed out that the continued population growth in the country makes the infrastructure needed very large. To support the infrastructure, private investments would be a necessity.
During AfricaCom, another point that Santos made was the use of emerging technologies to support a flourishing digital economy. Her belief is that Africa needs to enter the e-commerce marketplace. An e-commerce platform in the country would bring new and exciting opportunities. Products and services will be available to a larger audience and provide the means to further develop the country. Santos predicts that the next big movers and shakers in Africa will be related to e-commerce and digitization. Santos points out that the country’s population growth makes it home to one of the largest generations of youth ever. She believes it’s a necessity to tap into this potential. By training young people with the latest technological tools, there’s an opportunity for growth in the digital market.
Santos also believes that the future of Africa is tied to their relationship with China. Exporting to China will allow for more “Made in Africa” products to get into the hands of an international consumer base. African companies need to increase their presence outside of the country and China provides an opportunity to do so. Santos praises the Chinese’s policies for making trade possible through the country’s zero tariffs import tax regulations.
If 2019 is any indication, during the next year Santos will continue to inspire global leaders and private business owners to make the changes needed to carve out a positive economic future for Angola and the rest of Africa. Her success is concrete proof that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to work hard enough for it.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.