Isabel dos Santos on the future of Angola: grassroots entrepreneurship and green energy

isabel dos santos
Photo: Wikipedia

“I believe that energy will play a very important role in the future. There is a huge energy shortage on the continent [of Africa] and we urgently need more affordable, affordable and safer solutions. If energy is expensive, industry and business cannot be competitive.” 

Isabel dos Santos, entrepreneur, philanthropist and innovative business leader.

There is an urgent need around the world for businesses to become more sustainable. Business and industrial sectors account for almost half of all air pollution across the globe. This doesn’t even touch on the damage inflicted on the ecosystem through landfill and polluted water tables. 

And while the growing demand for businesses to change their ways has taken root in the United States, and other western countries, emerging markets have been slower to respond. That’s now changing, with Latin America and Africa now boasting some incredibly promising green technology hubs. 

Angola, in particular, has been championing sustainable entrepreneurial initiatives, under the leadership of high-profile people like Isabel dos Santos. It also boasts various projects aimed at utilising its natural resources, which include a vast potential for using hydropower to generate electricity

Grassroots entrepreneurship will boost Angola’s economy 

Angola used to be under Portuguese rule, and following years of civil war ending in 2002, is now emerging as a potential African economic powerhouse. It’s a vast country with around 29.3 billion people living and working across its 481,400 square miles of land. 

The country is home to massive oil and gas resources, as well as other possible money-making resources. These range from diamonds to acres upon acres of agricultural land, and a huge potential for harnessing hydroelectric energy. Industries that contribute most significantly to the economy of Angola include mining, services, transport, public administration and transport. 

There is a huge untapped potential, according to Isabel dos Santos, lying within local communities across the country. By improving infrastructure, such as communication, access to the internet and education, she believes that grassroots entrepreneurship can alter the country’s economy in a long-lasting fashion. 

Huge potential for hydropower in Angola

Angola is currently one of the biggest producers of crude oil in the continent, and a lack of development along the west coast in particular, has led to renewable energy initiatives springing up. As a broad estimate, around 64% of the power in Angola is now generated by hydropower, 24% from fossil fuels and 12% from natural gas, according to the International Hydropower Association (IHA).  

In the same way as many other emerging economies, Angola’s biggest challenges lie within its infrastructure and accessibility of services in rural areas. Essential services are necessary before entrepreneurs can thrive, and before day-to-day business and education can take place. 

Renewable energy is the resource that can make this happen across Angola. The IHA says that Angola’s many rivers are a rich resource for hydropower. Experts say that the country has the capacity to generate 18,200 MW of energy. This is approximately equivalent to around 12 nuclear power plans or 22 big coal-fired plants. 

Innovators, multinational businesses and renewable experts are coming forward to work with Angola on the development of facilities. The increased demand for electricity due to the growth of the economy and continuing urbanisation, the Government in Angola sees hydropower as the central component of its long-term plans. The Government says that it intends to increase the country’s generation capacity through hydropower from its level measured in 2016 (1,200MW) to at least 9,000 MW by 2025. 

Improving the infrastructure of Angola 

Isabel dos Santos leads the high-profile Angolan business leaders pushing to improve the much-needed infrastructure in her native country. The daughter of the former President of Angola, her global background and UK education has led to her meteoric rise as a successful businesswoman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor. 

Her businesses within Angola include a leading position at Unitel, the biggest provider of telecommunications in the country. She also has stakeholder roles in ZAP, CANDANDO, EFACEC and SODIBA. This eclectic background and vast business empire allow Isabel dos Santos not only to provide jobs for thousands of Angolans up and down the country, but also to champion successful individuals, fight for women’s rights and back countless philanthropical projects ranging from fighting malaria to linking entrepreneurs. 

EFACEC is a major name within energy, engineering and mobility and, significantly, a global leader of providing electric vehicles (EV). Isabel dos Santos’ strength lies in her engineering background combined with her ability to project a workable vision for Angola’s future. 

Regularly speaking at world events, including the International Economic Forum in Russia in February 2019, Isabel dos Santos pushes Angola’s prospects at every opportunity. Tirelessly working to attract foreign investment, oversee her businesses and build the foundations for Angolans to take charge of their own destinies, Isabel dos Santos is empowering future generations. 

Championing Angolans to reach their potential 

By providing opportunity, education and awareness within the rural communities of Angola, Isabel dos Santos believes that economic growth will come from grassroots success. There is now a solid economic framework working for Angolan people and helping to develop the workforce. 

Angola is richer in natural resources than other countries in Africa, and corporate leaders are working to drive growth within these sectors through technological innovation, skills acquisition and education. 

Opportunities within renewable energy are helping to lift rural communities, which will eventually rebalance the disproportionate wealth in Angola, which is significantly concentrated in the cities. This is what motivates Isabel dos Santos in her tireless work to unleash the full potential of Angola. And renewable energy and grassroots entrepreneurship are two strands of her wide-ranging vision and plans for doing so.