The economist and former finance minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to become the first woman and the first person from an African country to lead the World Trade Organization. She will also be the first American citizen to hold the organization’s top job.

According to reports, The 164 nations comprising the Geneva-based body cleared the last hurdle to arrive at a consensus on its next leader, the first woman and first African in its 26-year history, when the U.S. decided on January 5 to back Okonjo-Iweala. The WTO’s General Council is expected to formalize her position for a four-year term. For the first time, a black woman is heading the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Ngoji was born in 1954 in Nigeria. She came to America in 1973. She studied at Harvard University in 1973–76 and obtained a Ph.D. in 1981 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She worked with the World Bank as a Development Economist for 25 years and became the Managing Director during 2007–11. Ngozi was the Finance Minister of Nigeria twice during 2003–2006 and 2011–2015. She was the first woman to hold this position. She also became the first female foreign minister of Nigeria in 2006.

She is the founder of NOI Polls, Nigeria’s first indigenous Opinion Research Organization. In addition, he is also the founder of the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa. She has also written several books. Ngozi was included in Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders in 2015. Apart from this, Forbes also gave her a place in the list of 100 most powerful women in the world for 5 consecutive years. In 2014, Ngoji was ranked among the 100 most influential figures in the world by Time magazine.


Since 2019, Okonjo-Iweala has been part of UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education, chaired by Sahle-Work Zewde. 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). In 2020, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva appointed her to an external advisory group to provide input on policy challenges. Also in 2020, she was appointed by the African Union (AU) as a special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.



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