Isabel dos Santos may best be known as the richest woman in Africa. The daughter of the Angolan President, José Eduardo dos Santos, she has never been content to rest on the legacy of her father. Isabel dos Santos has struck her own bold path, forging herself into one of Africa’s most respected entrepreneurs.
Isabel was educated primarily in England, attending the prestigious Cobham Hall boarding school. This was followed by attending King’s College in London, where she earned a degree in electrical engineering. Since that time, she has served in management capacities for multiple companies. Currently, she heads Unitel, Angola’s largest telecommunications company. In this role, she has gained extensive and valuable experience in economics, infrastructure and the importance of technological adaptation in a changing world (Everipedia).
Not content with simply being a business leader, Isabel has also begun reaching into the world of public speaking and being an ambassador of sorts for Angola, the African continent as a whole, and for women in particular. She has been a driver for technological upgrades throughout Africa, especially in terms of internet availability. She sees this as an essential step in connecting communities together, and then into the greater world. Her work at Unitel reflects this commitment. Under dos Santos’ leadership, it has massively expanded infrastructure to even the remotest areas of Angola, including 12,500 km of high-speed internet cable.
As opportunity expands, however, it is a priority for Isabel dos Santos to ensure that it is available to women just as much as men. A successful enterprise can significantly jumpstart an area and provide thousands of jobs. As such, it is too important for many struggling nations to deny equal opportunity. Denying such equality could inhibit growth and lead to countries falling further behind in the global community. Isabel supports women seek entrepreneurship and become key economic contributors.
In an age of increased reliance on technology and the internet, it will take leaders such as Isabel dos Santos to help struggling nations rise and join the global community and economy. With initiatives and partnerships – including one with Chinese company Huawei that sends Angolan students to study in China, forging global connections and expanding cultural knowledge – dos Santos has poised Angola for a technological drive forward.
More on Dos Santos´ biography at http://www.yaapd.org/keynote-speakers/