Angolan president appoints daughter to state oil firm

Friday June 3 2016

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos arrives

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos arrives to the opening of an art exhibition in Porto, northern Portugal on May 3, 2014. Elder daughter of Angola's long reining President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel is, has been appointed as the non-executive administrator of the State-owned oil firm Sonangol. PHOTO | AFP 

By ARNALDO VIEIRA

Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has appointed his eldest daughter, Ms Isabel dos Santos, a non-executive administrator of the State-owned oil firm Sonangol.

The appointment, contained in a presidential decree Thursday, followed the sacking of the entire Sonangol board and a new one picked to replace it. Fernando de Carvalho Jerónimo was appointed as the struggling oil firm’s executive administrator.

The Thursday statement said Sonangol had adopted a new business model and would no longer prospect for and produce oil. The firm would instead focus on the management and  monitoring of oil agreements.

French Total is the largest oil producer in Angola, extracting about 700 barrels daily, accounting for about 42 per cent of the all country’s production. Other producers are the British BP and the American Chevron.

Angola is currently the largest producer of crude in Africa after militant attacks in Nigeria and other challenges have cut oil production in the west African country.

Angola, which relies on crude exports for two-thirds of its tax revenue and 95 per cent of its foreign currency receipts, has been regularly cited as one of the continent’s fastest growing economies.

However, since the beginning of 2015, the southern African country has faced a serious economic crisis occasioned by the oil price depression on the international market.

Making an elite

President Dos Santos, in power since 1979, has overseen an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by a 27-year-long civil war that ended in 2002.

Critics accuse him of mismanaging Angola's oil wealth and making an elite, mainly his family and political allies, vastly rich in a country ranked amongst the world's most corrupt.

In 2013, Dos Santos appointed his eldest son, José Filomeno dos Santos, to head the strategic $5 billion Angolan investment sovereign fund, created in October 2012.

Ms Isabel dos Santos assets in Angola include a 25 per cent stake in Unitel, one of the country’s two mobile phone networks and another 25 per cent stake in Banco BIC bank.

According to the United Nations, the oil sector represents 97 per cent of Angola’s exports and 80 per cent of public revenues. Further, it employs one per cent of the population which survives on less than $2 per day.

Additional reporting by Reuters.