Management of Chad's oil revenues is a family affair. Seventy three per cent of the $12 billion revenues accumulated since 2003 and 90% of exports are accounted for by the entourage of President Idris Deby Itno and, above all, his wife, Hinda Deby Itno. Since she married the head of state in 2005, the 35-year-old first lady has become a prominent figure in the oil sector. With her right hand man, oil minister Djerassem Le Bemadjiel, she can be seen at all the ceremonies to mark the start of production from new fields. In December 2014, she attended the inauguration of the Grand Baobab field in the southern Bongor Basin and, in February 2015, that of the Mangara field in the southern Logone Occidental region. Despite the current fall in crude oil prices and the rise to prominence in Chad of the Anglo-Swiss commodities trading group Glencore, which organized a $1.3 billion loan to enable Chad to buy the 25% stake held by US group Chevron in the Doba fields, Hinda Deby Ito's collaborators can be found at every point in the process of management of the production revenues paid to the state by the oil majors, ExxonMobil and Petronas and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).

To achieve this position, she has placed loyal supporters in senior positions at national oil company Société des Hydrocarbures du Tchad (SHT), which manages the revenues from the all-important Doba zone which came into production in south eastern Chad in 2003, as well as at Société de Raffinage de N'Djamena (SRN). The refinery run by this latter company, which is 60% owned by CNPC and 40% by the Chadian state, processes the oil produced by China National Petroleum Corp International Chad (CNPCIC) from the Rosier and Mimosa reserves.

Hinda Deby Itno's older brother, education minister Ahmat Khazali Acyl was the first managing director of SHT. Mahamat Kasser Younous, who held the post from 2011 to 2014, also belongs to the first lady's inner circle. Hinda Deby is also related by marriage to Ibrahim Hissein Bourma, the company's marketing director, who married her sister, Mamy Mahamat Acyl. To complete the picture, SHT's young financial director and accountant, Mahamat Guihini Guet, is a nephew of President Deby by his wife. The post was created especially for him in 2014.

Thanks to this team united by its common interested in controlling the key resource which is oil, Hinda Deby Ito has been able to involve herself in the country's most profitable oil contracts, as well as getting a say in certain industry appointments and being kept informed of latest developments in the sector. The news may or may not then be relayed up to the head of state.

Beyond the oil sector, few first ladies have had so much power in Chad. Hinda Deby even has her own section on the presidential website. Trained as a financier in Morocco at the Institut du Génie Appliqué (IGA) in Rabat and a former head accountant at the health ministry before becoming her husband's private secretary at the Palais Rose, she is active in other area of decision-making.

Having placed her nine brothers and sisters in the presidential entourage, she seems to be able to appoint and dismiss whoever she wants. One close associate, Hissein Massar Hissein, is the current Minister of Health. Another one, Mahamat Issa Halikimi, was previously Minister of Justice. All are from Ouaddaï in eastern Chad, the region of origin of her father, Mahamat Abderahim Acyl, a former high-ranking official at USAID and the UNDP and a former ambassador in Khartoum and Abidjan.

Hinda Deby Itno is also active in the private sector where she acts as go-between for companies and foreign businessmen looking to establish themselves in Chad, like Corsican Michel Tomi, head of aircraft leasing company Afrijet.

Her political astuteness is a source of grave dissension, however, within the ruling Zaghawa clan, which has difficulty accepting the authority exercised by this young francophone Arab of mixed origin over certain decisions of the state. Her involvement in certain philanthropic activities is basically aimed at improving her image. She was godmother of the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) and president of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) from 2013 and 2015.