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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Nigerian economist

Top 9 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala related articles

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Okonjo-Iweala in 2008
7th Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Assuming office
1 March 2021
SucceedingRoberto Azevêdo
Minister of Finance
In office
17 August 2011 – 29 May 2015
PresidentGoodluck Jonathan
Preceded byOlusegun Olutoyin Aganga
Succeeded byKemi Adeosun
In office
15 July 2003 – 21 June 2006
PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo
Preceded byAdamu Ciroma
Succeeded byNenadi Usman
Coordinating Minister for the Economy
In office
17 August 2011 – 29 May 2015
PresidentGoodluck Jonathan
Preceded byOlusegun Olutoyin Aganga
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
21 June 2006 – 30 August 2006
PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo
Preceded byOluyemi Adeniji
Succeeded byJoy Ogwu
Personal details
Ogwashi Ukwu, Nigeria
CitizenshipNigeria (1954–present)
United States (2019–present)[1]
Spouse(s)Ikemba Iweala
Children4, including Uzodinma Iweala
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA, PhD)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (born 13 June 1954) is a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert. She sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).[2] On 15 February 2021, she was appointed as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Her term will begin on 1 March 2021, making her the first woman and the first African to hold the office.[3][4]

Previously, Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the Number 2 position of Managing Director, Operations (2007–2011). She also served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003–2006, 2011–2015) under President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively. She was the first woman to serve as the country's finance minister and the first woman to serve in that office twice. In 2005, Euromoney named her global finance minister of the year.[5]

Early life and education

Okonjo-Iweala was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria, where her father Professor Chukwuka Okonjo was the Obi (King) from the Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.[6]

Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Queen's School, Enugu, St. Anne's School, Molete, Ibadan, and the International School Ibadan. She arrived in the US in 1973 as a teenager to study at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an AB in Economics in 1976.[7] In 1981, she earned her PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a thesis titled Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria's agricultural development.[8] She received an international fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), that supported her doctoral studies.[9]

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Early life and education articles: 10


Career at the World Bank

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the 2004 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group

Okonjo-Iweala had a 25-year career at the World Bank in Washington DC as a development economist, rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director.[10] As Managing Director, she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008–2009 food crises, and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the IDA replenishment, the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.[11] During her time at the World Bank, she was also a member of the Commission on Effective Development Cooperation with Africa, which was set up by the Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, and held meetings between April and October 2008.[12]

Career in government

Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and also as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[13] She was the first female to hold both positions. During her first term as Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club that led to the wiping out of US$30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of US$18 billion.[14] In 2003 she led efforts to improve Nigeria’s macroeconomic management including the implementation of an oil-price based fiscal rule where revenues accruing above a reference benchmark oil price were saved in a special account, "The Excess Crude Account" which helped to reduce macroeconomic volatility.[15]

She also introduced the practice of publishing each state's monthly financial allocation from the Federal Government of Nigeria in the newspapers. This action went a long way in increasing transparency in governance.[16][17] With the support of the World Bank and the IMF to the Federal Government, she helped build an electronic financial management platform—the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS), including the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), helping to curtail corruption in the process. As at 31 December 2014, the IPPIS platform had eliminated 62,893 ghost workers from the system and saved the government about $1.25 billion in the process.[18][19]

Okonjo-Iweala was also instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s in 2006.[9]

Following her first term as Minister of Finance, she served two months as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006. She returned to the World Bank as a Managing Director in December 2007.[10][20]

In 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was re-appointed as Minister of Finance in Nigeria with the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy by President Goodluck Jonathan. Her legacy includes strengthening the country's public financial systems and stimulating the housing sector with the establishment of the Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC).[21] She also empowered women and youth with the Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria Programme (GWIN); a gender-responsive budgeting system,[22] and the highly acclaimed Youth Enterprise with Innovation programme (YouWIN); to support entrepreneurs, that created thousands of jobs.[23][24] As part of Goodluck Jonathan's administration, she received death threats and endured the kidnapping of her mother.[25][26]

This programme has been evaluated by the World Bank as one of the most effective of its kind globally. Under her leadership, the National Bureau of Statistics carried out a re-basing exercise of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the first in 24 years, which saw Nigeria emerge as the largest economy in Africa.[27] She took a lot of heat for the government's fuel subsidy removal policy, an action that led to protests in January 2012.[28] In May 2016, the new administration eventually removed the fuel subsidy after it became apparent that it was unsustainable and inefficient.[29]

In addition to her role in government, Okonjo-Iweala served on the Growth Commission (2006–2009), led by Nobel Prize winner Professor Michael Spence, and the United Nations’ Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (2012–2013). She also co-chaired the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.[30] In 2012, she was a candidate for President of the World Bank, running against Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim; if elected, she would have become the organization's first female president.[31]

Later career

After leaving government, Okonjo-Iweala was also a member of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (2015–2016), chaired by Gordon Brown, and the Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance, which was established by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (2017–2018).[32] Since 2014, she has been co-chairing the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate, with Nicholas Stern and Paul Polman.[33] In January 2016, she was appointed the Chair-elect of the Board of Gavi.[34]

Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI-Polls.[35] She also founded the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (C-SEA),[36] a development research think tank based in Abuja, and is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution.[37]

Since 2019, Okonjo-Iweala has been part of UNESCO's International Commission on the Futures of Education, chaired by Sahle-Work Zewde.[38] Also since 2019, she has also been serving on the High-Level Council on Leadership & Management for Development of the Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health).[39] In 2020, the International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva appointed her to an external advisory group to provide input on policy challenges.[40] Also in 2020, she was appointed by the African Union (AU) as special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.[41]

In June 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria nominated Okonjo-Iweala as the country’s candidate to be director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).[42] She later advanced to the election's final round, eventually competing with Yoo Myung-hee.[43] Ahead of the vote, she received the backing of the European Union for her candidacy.[44] In October 2020, the United States government indicated that it would not back Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy.[45] The WTO in its formal report said Okonjo-Iweala "clearly carried the largest support by Members in the final round; and, enjoyed broad support from Members from all levels of development and from all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process" [46] On 5 February 2021, Yoo Myung-hee announced her withdrawal from the race, in "close consultation with the United States".[47] According to a statement issued from the United States Trade Representative, which says “The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO".[48] Okonjo-Iweala was unanimously appointed as the next director-general on 15 February.[49]

In early 2021, Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as co-chair, alongside Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Lawrence Summers, of the High Level Independent Panel (HLIP) on financing the global commons for pandemic preparedness and response, which had been established by the G20.[50]

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Career articles: 36

Personal life

She is married to Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon from Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria. They have four children.[51][52][53][54][55]

During her campaign to become the next Director-General of the WTO, it was revealed that Okonjo-Iweala became a US citizen in 2019 after spending several decades working and studying there.[56] Given the ongoing trade tensions between China and the US, analysts commented that the disclosure would be a contributing factor in shaping China’s attitude towards her.[57]

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Personal life articles: 6

Other activities

Government agencies

International organizations

Corporate boards

Non-profit organizations



Okonjo-Iweala has received numerous recognition and awards. She has been listed as one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015),[90] the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014),[91] the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy, 2011 and 2012),[92] the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014),[93] the Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes, 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes, 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The Guardian, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek, 2011), the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011).[85] She was listed among 73 "brilliant" business influencers in the world by Condé Nast International.[94]

In 2019, Okonjo-Iweala was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[95] She was also conferred High National Honours from the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and the Republic of Liberia. She is also the recipient of Nigeria's Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).[85] Other honours include:

Honorary degrees

Okonjo-Iweala has received honorary degrees from 14 universities worldwide, including some from the most prestigious colleges:

She has also received degrees from a host of Nigerian universities including Abia State University, Delta State University, Abraka, Oduduwa University, Babcock University, and the Universities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Ife (Obafemi Awolowo university). In 2019, Okonjo Iweala was awarded an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University.[116]

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Other activities articles: 20


  • Fighting Corruption is Dangerous : The story behind the headlines – A frontline account from Nigeria's former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of how to fight corruption and lessons learned for governance and development. Published by MIT Press, (2018).[117][118]
  • Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (21 September 2012). Reforming the unreformable : lessons from Nigeria (First MIT Press paperback ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-0-262-01814-2. LCCN 2012008453. OCLC 878501895. OL 25238823M.
  • Shine a Light on the Gaps – an essay on financial inclusion for African Small Holder Farmers, published by Foreign Affairs, (2015), co-authored with Janeen Madan
  • Funding the SDGs: Licit and Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries, published by Horizons Magazine, (2016)
  • Sallah, Tijan M.; Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (2003). Chinua Achebe, teacher of light : a biography. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 1-59221-031-7. LCCN 2002152037. OCLC 50919841. OL 3576773M.
  • Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi; Soludo, Charles Chukwuma; Muhtar, Mansur, eds. (2003). The debt trap in Nigeria : towards a sustainable debt strategy. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 1-59221-000-7. LCCN 2002007778. OCLC 49875048. OL 12376413M.
  • Want to Help Africa? Do Business Here – A Ted Talk delivered March 2007[119]
  • Aid Versus Trade – A Ted Talk delivered June 2007[120]
  • Don't Trivialise Corruption, Tackle It – A Tedx Euston Talk delivered January 2013[121]

Gallery of Okonjo-Iweala

See also


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  2. ^ "ARC Agency Governing Board – African Risk Capacity". Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  3. ^ Hayashi, Yuka; Jeong, Eun-Young (5 February 2021). "U.S. Backs Nigeria's Former Finance Minister for Next WTO Director". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  4. ^ "WTO: South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee withdraws from director general race, clearing path for Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala". South China Morning Post. 5 February 2021.
  5. ^ Tribune, Emea. "Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Becomes First Female, African To Head World Trade Organisation". Retrieved 16 February 2021.
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  7. ^ "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria and former managing director of the World Bank, will deliver the 2020 Graduation Address". www.hks.harvard.edu. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  8. ^ Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (1981). Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria's agricultural development (Thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/46400. OCLC 08096642.
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  32. ^ Members Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance.
  33. ^ "Members of the Global Commission". NewClimateEconomy.net. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
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  38. ^ International Commission on the Futures of Education UNESCO.
  39. ^ Members of the High-Level Council on Leadership & Management for Development Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health).
  40. ^ Andrea Shalal and David Lawder (10 April 2020), IMF's Georgieva creates external advisory panel on pandemic Reuters.
  41. ^ Emma Rumney (12 April 2020), African Union appoints ex-Credit Suisse boss as envoy for virus support Reuters.
  42. ^ Ana Monteiro (5 June 2020), Nigeria Nominates Okonjo-Iweala as WTO Director-General Bloomberg News.
  43. ^ "Okonjo-Iweala Advances to Final Round of WTO Leadership". The African Media. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  44. ^ Jim Brunsden (26 October 2020) The EU will back Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general of the World Trade Organization, boosting the Nigerian’s frontrunner status Financial Times.
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  71. ^ Advisory Board Bloomberg New Economy Forum.
  72. ^ Board of Directors Results for Development (R4D)
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  81. ^ Advisory Board Global Business Coalition for Education.
  82. ^ Advisory Board Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS).
  83. ^ Global Leadership Council Mercy Corps.
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  109. ^ "Vice President Biden to speak at Penn's 257th Commencement | Penn Current". penncurrent.upenn.edu. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  110. ^ "Yale awards nine honorary degrees at Commencement 2015". Yale News. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
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  112. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". tcd.ie. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  113. ^ "Brown University will confer eight honorary degrees on May 28". brown.edu. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
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  115. ^ "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | World Leaders Forum". worldleaders.columbia.edu. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  116. ^ "Photo News: Okonjo-Iweala bags honorary PhD from Tel Aviv varsity". P.M. News. 17 May 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  117. ^ "Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  118. ^ Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi. Fighting corruption is dangerous : the story behind the headlines. Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-0-262-03801-0. LCCN 2017041524. OCLC 1003273241. OL 27372326M.
  119. ^ "Want to help Africa? Do business here". TED. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  120. ^ "Aid versus trade". TED. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  121. ^ "Don't trivialise corruption, tackle it: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at TEDxEuston". youtube. Retrieved 19 March 2020.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Adamu Ciroma
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Nenadi Usman
Preceded by
Oluyemi Adeniji
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Joy Ogwu
Preceded by
Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Kemi Adeosun
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Roberto Azevêdo
Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Taking office 2021