Angola needs bridges and partnerships to grow
TV Zimbo – We have with us today Engineer Isabel dos Santos. Good night to you. Let me ask you: what can this Summit [Russia-Africa Summit] represent for the Cradle of Humankind?
Isabel dos Santos – Hello Tatiana Reis, good night. Good evening Angola and good evening Luanda, here from Sochi, Russia. It really is a pleasure to be here and this Summit is something that I believe will change the relationships between Russia and Africa, especially with respect to investments and partnerships that can make our continent grow.
TV Zimbo – This is not the first time that these summits have been held, but the fact is that in terms of concrete results, little or nothing was done. I ask you: how will this summit be different from the others?
Isabel dos Santos – No doubt it is always very difficult to move from theory to practice, isn’t it? So, how do you build relationships, how can people really make partnerships, how can companies be established in Africa? For example, how can a Russian company work in Angola, or how can an Angolan company work in Russia? These are not easy things, but this kind of summit is very important because it opens the dialogue. We start talking, we start to see how we can relate to each other and what legal framework is needed, but also what kind of funding and what kind of support can there be for companies that want to engage in partnerships.
TV Zimbo – At the moment, Angola still has serious basic problems such as electricity, water. How to really attract foreign investment?
Isabel dos Santos – We saw, for example, a project like Capanda, which was done two decades ago with the participation of Russian companies and is indeed a major power plant and there is no doubt that Russia has technology and know-how. So, Russia knows how to build dams and can be a good partner in the electricity sector, for example in Angola.
TV Zimbo – But at this summit what Putin wants from Angola is a greater cooperation in the diamond sector.
Isabel dos Santos – I believe there are several challenges that have been set. Certainly for Russia the mining sector is a key sector. It is also one of the sectors where Russia has the most know-how, that is, it does have a great deal of experience in the mining sector, but not only here. Today, President Putin has set a challenge to double or triple turnover between Africa and Russia. Well, that amount is around 17 billion. So you see, tripling means going to 40, 50 billion and that’s in a very, very short time.
TV Zimbo – Now Russia is forgiving 20 billion of debt to Africa, but at what price?
TV Zimbo – Well, I don’t really know the details of debt forgiveness. I think there is no doubt that we have very high debts in our countries. Part of this debt is not well structured. This debt does not allow us to grow, it does not allow us to invest more and of course, when there is an agreement when there is a willingness for a country to forgive a debt, I think this is always welcome. What I would really like to see is an investment in productive sectors, job-creating sectors and especially sectors that give Angolan companies the opportunity to sell products and provide services.
TV Zimbo – Is Russia’s interest in the African continent due to the Chinese and American presence? Is there a connection?
Isabel dos Santos – Russia has always been a country very close to Angola. If we remember from a historical point of view, deep down, the Soviet Union has had historical links with Angola since our Independence, right? So I think this is not surprising today. I think modern Russia has a different economy, other challenges, but Russia today has the technology, especially in the computer business too. These are very, very advanced technologies and we really can have a benefit in this kind of partnership.
TV Zimbo – In addition to this benefit or benefits you have just told me about, looking now at investments in our country, it is possible at this time to talk about priorities. For you, where should we start acting? What would be a priority for you?
Isabel dos Santos – Look, to me, there really is no project that pleases me more than actually being self-sufficient in food. Being able to produce what we need to eat. That is agriculture. And what I really would like to see is some partnerships between Russia and Angola to help us develop the agricultural sector. And I will say something very concrete, for example, helping us to have more irrigated land, in other words, from irrigation projects to the land preparation project and also the transfer of some technology for cereal planting.
TV Zimbo – Do you have any expectations regarding President João Lourenço’s speech in Sochi tomorrow?
Isabel dos Santos – Let us wait and hope that from here on the bridges and partnerships Angola needs to build will actually be built so that we can all have that land we want with jobs, health, and housing.
TV Zimbo – Engineer Isabel dos Santos, it was a pleasure to have you live here at Zimbo’s News!
Isabel dos Santos – Thank you so much!
TV Zimbo – Good evening, see you next time!
Isabel dos Santos – Good evening, good evening Angola! Thank you!