Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was brought to the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday, February 15, 2021. With this appointment, she became the first woman and the first African to lead such an international initiative. It will take office on 1 March for a renewable term expiring on 31 August 2025.
“WTO members have just agreed to appoint Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the WTO. The decision was taken by consensus at a special meeting of the General Council of the organization today”, announced by the WTO, about 15 minutes after the opening of the meeting.
His appointment as head of the WTO seemed to become increasingly obvious as his only rival, South Korean Minister Yoo Myung-hee, announced his withdrawal from the race on February 5, 2020 following an interview with the US, which supported him. After several months of paralysis, the administration of the new US President, Joe Biden, has decided to give its unconditional support to the Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The latter succeeds the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo who had resigned since August 2020 for family reasons. The latter was then Director of the WTO since September 1, 2013.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is 66 years old and has spoken out virtually because of Covid-19 to express her gratitude and pride as a woman at the helm of such an institution.
A seasoned economist, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is one of Nigeria’s most powerful women. She worked for over 25 years at the World Bank before taking on political responsibilities in government. She served twice as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Head of Diplomacy for two months.