Angola’s outgoing president Jose Eduardo dos Santos has reportedly given his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, a contract to build the country’s biggest dam yet.
According to email leaks cited by the Expresso news portal, Isabel – Africa’s richest woman, had been awarded the contract to build the dam at a cost which is equal to 5% of Angola’s GDP and its annual education budget.
The $4.5bn dam Caculo Cabaca dam project had been awarded in 2015 to a consortium led by one of China’s leading construction firms – China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC).
It, however, turned out that CGGC had a hidden shareholder in the person of the president’s daughter who reportedly owns 40% of the consortium. The latest revelation buttresses earlier claims made by an Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais.
Dos Santos laid the foundation stone for the project in early August with days to the polls which the ruling MPLA was declared winner of despite opposition protests. The dam expected to be completed in 2022 will provide over 2,100 watts of power – enough to light over 2 million homes.
Outgoing dos Santos was replaced by former defence minister Joao Lourenco as candidate of the MPLA, it follows his declaration in 2016 that he will step down after 38 years in charge of the oil-rich former Portuguese colony.
Meanwhile, a public relations firms representing Isabel has categorically denied the reports questioning the veracity of the said emails. “Isabel dos Santos categorically denies being the author of the emails reproduced in the weekly newspaper Expresso.
“The newspaper associates the name of the businessman with correspondence that, in fact, was never written or sent by her. The article contains false information and without credibility, which also puts into question how the correspondence quoted and transcribed in that article was obtained.”
Brief about Isabel dos Santos – Africa’s richest woman
Isabel according to U.S. magazine, Forbes, is the continent’s richest woman with estimated wealth of $3.5bn. She has several business interests in Angola and Portugal.
Even though she is currently the head of Angolan national oil firm, Sonangol, most of her wealth is believed to have been gotten from investments back home in Angola and in Portugal. She took the oil boss position in June 2016.
Her assets at home include 25% in the country’s largest mobile phone network, 42% of a bank, Banco OIC. Over in Portugal, she owns shares in an oil and gas firm and in the country’s fourth largest bank. She is also a controlling stakeholder of cable TV and telecom firm, Nos SGPS.
A spokesperson for her father dispelled rumours that she benefitted from her father’ position, he told Forbes that “Isabel dos Santos is an independent business woman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.
‘‘Her investments in Angolan and/or in Portuguese companies are transparent and have been conducted through arm’s length transactions involving external entities such as reputed banks and law firms.”
She resides in the Angolan capital, Luanda and is married with three children.