Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Meet the

The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Image sourced via Twitter: @AwediNetwork

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Meet the World Trade Organisation’s new boss

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s historic appointment at the WTO comes during a critical time as the body navigates the trade environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Meet the

The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Image sourced via Twitter: @AwediNetwork

Nigeria’s former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is twice the trailblazer, becoming the first African and first woman to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment came after the WTO’s 164 members unanimously selected her to serve a four-year term as the international body’s director-general, starting from 1 March 2021.

“This is a very significant moment for the WTO. On behalf of the General Council, I extend our warmest congratulations to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the WTO’s next Director-General and formally welcome her to this General Council meeting,” said the WTO’s David Walker.

Okonjo-Iweala to prioritise COVID-19 vaccine

The new WTO head said one of her main focus in her new role is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, including helping ensure adequate supply of vaccines to poorer countries.

“We also encourage finding, what I call a third way, in which vaccines can be manufactured in many more countries whilst taking care that we do not discourage research and innovation, which is linked to intellectual property rights. So, this is an area of work,” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala further said that her other priorities would be implementing deep reforms within trade and the organisation.

“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger…,”she further said.

Who is the new WTO director-general?

The 66-year-old was born in Nigeria and graduated at Harvard University with a degree in Economics in 1976. She then earned a PHD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Okonjo-Iweala spent 25-years at the World Bank in Washington DC as a development economist, and later became its Managing Director, a post which saw her oversee the institution’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. She has also served in Nigeria’s government as a finance minister and minister of foreign affairs.

She is married to Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon and the couple has four children together.