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Africa’s richest woman eyes investment in Russia

Isabel dos Santos believes that Russia has a vast potential in high technology

SOCHI, October 27. /TASS/. Isabel dos Santos, the richest woman in Africa, according to Forbes, and the Russian daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, believes that Russia has a vast potential in high technology and plans to invest in those sectors, she said in an interview with TASS on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit.

The Angolan businesswoman spoke about bridging gaps and about her program of assistance to African women, while highly praising the opportunities provided by the summit and its economic forum.

"Such a forum provides a chance for dialogue not only between Russia and African countries, but also among African nations. It allows them to spoke about threats and challenges they are facing and to search for solutions," Dos Santos said.

Meeting halfway

Dos Santos pointed out that increasing cooperation between business communities of Russia and African countries will help forge economic ties.

"It is always better to bridge gaps first in business. When the two countries’ entrepreneurs join efforts and get ahead, it creates a favorable environment for the future growth," she stressed. According to the businesswoman, legal protection of investment is crucial, "since under those conditions any investor will be more willing to invest in Angola or in any other African country."

"Some countries provide insurance for export loans, which creates conditions for investors. However, this practice does not exist between Russia and Africa yet," Dos Santos said referring to the barriers hampering Russian companies’ more active presence in Africa. "But in case it existed, it would be easier for Russian companies to operate in Africa and to sell goods and services. It could give some guarantees and reduce risks for business."

In her opinion, various venues should be used to gain a better understanding of the market.

"For instance, a financial dimension. Should Russian and African banks collaborate more closely, it will create a database and a channel to exchange it," she explained.

Market with a twist

Dos Santos is convinced that investment should come both ways - both from Russia to Africa and back.

"The IT sector, programming, artificial intelligence are boosting in Russia. I feel that Russia has a vast potential. One can help an array of startups, can invest in talented young people and can create in Russia solutions and technology that would be applied worldwide," she underlined speculating about possibilities of investment in Russia.

The Angolan entrepreneur revealed that she had eyed certain Russian companies which "could have success in the African market," and that she was considering investment in Russia.

"We are interested in this sector. In particular, FinTech, mobile payment systems and online payments," she added. "We seek to invest in Russian technology and software companies in order to make a product that would be in demand and would be adapted to the emerging market, or the market of Africa where I work."

Dos Santos underlined that Russia is abundant in talented people who are capable of developing a product "with a twist" that will be in demand "in specific markets."

Women in business

The billionaire shared her view on solutions to women’s professional self-identification across Africa.

"My companies can boast our staff policy, as women must make up minimum 40% of the employees. We let women grow, take responsibilities and assume leading positions," she stressed.

Nevertheless, Dos Santos says with confidence, it is not enough and steps should be taken at the level of a state.

"African states should introduce a relevant policy, particularly education. The problem is that in Africa girls drop out of schools very early, they get married young and have babies which deprive them of a chance of build careers and do business," she believes.

Africa’s richest woman told TASS about her idea that would help women to build a career.

"I have recently invested in a project developing electric machines and vehicles. We put forward a program under which we would employ 50 female engineers and get them involved in development and research in that field. It is a Europe-based project, but the plan is to take on women from different regions," she said.

"When I bought this company, 2,000 people worked in it, mainly men. But it is of importance for me to maintain a gender balance in the companies I work in," she said. "In this case, we set a goal of looking for young female engineers who are enthusiastic to move on by developing electric vehicles," she concluded.