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Angola’s Supreme Court Would Like A Word With The Country’s President On Oil

Dos Santos Sonangol

On the face of things, it would only seem to make sense that the president of a nation would appoint a smart, savvy businessperson to head up the country’s state oil firm. But when that smart, savvy business person is also the president’s daughter, eyebrows will inevitably be raised.

Eyebrows were first raised in June, following the news that the president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, appointed his daughter Isabel as the head of the state-owned oil company Sonangol. So eyebrow-raising in fact, that the action has now prompted Angola’s Supreme Court to request an appearance by President dos Santos to explain the appointment.

The request came after 14 Angolan lawyers filed a case accusing dos Santos of nepotism and violating the nation’s probity law. Some analysts are concerned that the appointment means that dos Santos is setting up a dynasty and allowing for familial succession, should he follow through on an announcement to leave office in 2018. Others speculate that he might actually have the company’s best interests at heart.

Isabel was named CEO after the president fired Sonangol’s previous board members. Angola is a member of OPEC, and has become the leading oil producer on the African continent, as militant attacks on infrastructure, along with other issues in Nigeria, have stifled production there.

Isabel dos Santos is the richest woman in Africa, and she is no stranger to business with a net worth of $3.2 billion. She has an impressive portfolio, and among other ventures, controls Unitel, the largest cell phone company in Angola; she owns the first supermarket in the country, Candando, along with interests in banks, a major cement company, and the football club Petro de Luanda, which is owned by Sonangol.

She also has holdings in the energy, financial and telecommunications sectors in Portugal. She has made a pledge to improve Sonangol efficiency and its margins in the face of a down oil market. As part of her plan, she intends to divide Sonangol into three units that would oversee logistics, operations, and concessions to foreign companies, respectively.

By Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com

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