We are beginning to have our own business role models and I think those will create the influence
Isabel dos Santos – Twenty years ago, we didn’t have African business symbols. And nowadays you see that it has been recognised that each country has investors and strong key players in their economies. And now, a lot of these key players in their economies are not just playing in their own countries, but also going cross boarders to other African countries and stablishing networks that are not running from their own country of origin but also in other African cities and really looking at more of an African play. This is very new and very forward.
CGTN Africa – Having been a key player in Angola’s oil and gas sector, what lessons do you think Africa can learn? Especially after that shake up in commodity prices?
Isabel dos Santos – I came into the oil sector through the eyes of an NOC – a state run company. State run companies and public companies have a very peculiar working environment, but they also look at the social economic benefit that they generate into their economies. In the particular case of Sonangol, being the holder of the national rights, the concession of the national oil rights, it was something very social to the company. So public and private companies are run slightly different. When we look at IOCs, they are much more focused on profitability, on having efficient management, on really looking at the best opportunities to invest. And sometimes we don’t have the same alignment between a private and a public company.
Where in a public company the priorities can be sometimes regional development or strategic development or providing employment in certain areas. So, a lot more aligned with political issues as well. But in terms of oil sector and its opportunities, you asked me if we can do more and can do better. The answer is yes. We can definitely do more and better. And this will take by us being a lot more rigorous in the way we invest as governments or as holders or any kind of stakeholders in the oil sector. Really looking at the oil sector and studying the opportunities better, before we put in our money. So, recognizing the better opportunities, smaller investments, faster returns, smaller risks, to make us more resilient and then grow these opportunities.
CGTN Africa – Of course Angola is going through some major reforms in its oil and gas sector. What is your take on how it is going to change the landscape of the industry?
Isabel dos Santos – Government and good governance are key because they really create the microeconomic environment and we need that microeconomic environment to work. So, these are issues of budget and really planning carefully the budget. Recognizing where investments and infrastructures are needed. Because sometimes what happens is that we will invest in infrastructures, but are we putting that infrastructure in the right place? Are we putting that infrastructure close to employment? Close to where the business community needs that infrastructure to be?
So, really having more alignment between government and business is essential. And when government is developing policies, it has to be policies that make sense. In terms of government, government policy is key to create a microeconomic environment and having a close dialogue between the government and the business community is really very important.