A closer dialogue between the Government and the business community is key
Isabel dos Santos – This is the question: how does this all this happening here makes a difference in our everyday lives? I think there were a lot of great contributions that came through. A very strong one was the issue of policy: can we have policy alignment? The second issue was definitely looking to regulation and make sure that the regulation is one that fits, that we can actually understand those regulations and they are fair. But for me, the most important contribution was the payment issue and the payment system. If you are from Nigeria you’re paying in naira and I am in Angola and have kwanzas, and somebody in South Africa has rands. How do we make it work? Currently, we don’t have common payment platform, and this is a big challenge. We need to think about it and if we fix that, we will be improving a lot the trade.
CNBC Africa– Talking about fixing that, how quick do you think that can really happen? There a lot of issues with currencies and PR rates, so how do you think there could be an enlighten or conversion point at any time?
Isabel dos Santos – I don’t think that we necessarily need a single currency, but definitely an integration between our central banks. Our central banks need to start talking to each other and currently they’re not. They need to find a way, to find a platform with an integrated payment system, where you can actually convert currencies from one country to another without through a third barter currency like the euro, the yen or the dollar.
CNBC Africa – The African Union has actually introduced the AU passport. Is that really the biggest challenge, when it comes to challenges confronting Africa’s trade today? What do you think of the single passport system? Do you think that in any way it will make an impact, or should we be talking about tackling much more?
Isabel dos Santos – For me, at a personal level, visas are always an issue. I’m Angolan so I’m required to have a visa to go anywhere in the world. It is a hurdle because there are fast business decisions that requires you to be there in that day or the next day. We cannot think about three weeks in advance. So, we can think about having a simple system as visa on arrival for business people who are coming for three, four or seven days. And if we start recognizing that there are African businessmen and African businesswomen that have the need for that service, I think that would be a great change.
CNBC Africa – What do you think the governments across Africa are on board in terms of the role private sector should be playing in order to promote inter Africa trade? You talked about very key policies. Those who say that Africa’s problem lies on a simple signature to turn things around. Do you think it as to do with the discussions we’re having here today?
Isabel dos Santos – Great steps have been taken. If we look back two decades ago, we wouldn’t know who were the faces or the names of the leading African business people. Today, they are common household names. We all know people from Nigeria, Angola or Senegal, and young entrepreneurs are begging to know these names. So, we are begging to have our own business role models and I think those will create the influence. They will influence, and they will be able to put forward their very strong cases and arguments of why policy needs to improve and why governments need to recognize the role of private business sector in Africa and in building our economies.
CNBC Africa – In a nutshell, what are your expectations about the discussions at the Summit tomorrow?
Isabel dos Santos – Everyone came here with the same idea: can we do more business, and can we make more money? So, I hope that most people that came can go back home and feel that they have found some hope of things to do in the future, and they’ve met people with whom they can do business in the future, and build profit and good relationships with.