Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation has arrived Nigeria for a one-week working visit.
Okonjo-Iweala resumed at the Geneva-based WTO on March 1, 2021, as the first female and first African director-general of the organisation.
While addressing journalists shortly after her arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on Saturday March 13, 2021. The former minister of finance said she is in the country to see how to better assist Nigerian entrepreneurs and improve the economy.
She emphasised the need for Nigeria to explore its share of trade in Africa through the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. She also said she’ll meet with the President Muhammadu Buhari and a number of ministers in the coming days.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert who have served since March 1, 2021 as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. She is the first woman and the first African to hold the office.
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. Dr Okonjo-Iweala was formerly Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Since its creation in 2000, Gavi has immunized 760 million children globally and saved thirteen million lives.
She was previously on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. She was recently appointed as African Union (AU) Special Envoy to mobilise international financial support for the fight against COVID-19 and WHO Special Envoy for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. She is a skilled negotiator and has brokered numerous agreements which have produced win-win outcomes in negotiations. She is regarded as an effective consensus builder and an honest broker enjoying the trust and confidence of governments and other stakeholders.
Previously, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala twice served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006, the first woman to hold both positions. She distinguished herself by carrying out major reforms which improved the effectiveness of these two Ministries and the functioning of the government machinery. She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director, Operations. As a development economist and Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala steered her country through various reforms ranging from macroeconomic to trade, financial and real sector issues.
She is a firm believer in the power of trade to lift developing countries out of poverty and assist them to achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development. As Finance Minister, she was involved in trade negotiations with other West African countries and contributed to the overhaul of Nigeria’s trade policy enabling it to enhance its competitiveness. She has closely followed developments at the WTO, as she believes that a strengthened multilateral trading system is in the interests of all countries, particularly least developed and African countries.
She is renowned as the first female and African candidate to contest for the presidency of the World Bank Group in 2012, backed by Africa and major developing countries in the first truly contestable race for the world’s highest development finance post. As Managing Director of the World Bank, she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Dr Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crisis and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.