Okonjo-Iweala makes history
International Business

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is DG of WTO, makes history

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes history as she is appointed first woman and first black to head the World Trade Organisation(WTO).

Her tenure begins 1 March 2021, according to a twitter flash from the organisation.

WTO’s General Council began meeting by 3.00 pm today in Geneva and wasted no time to announce her as new Director General of the organisation.


WTO Makes History. NOI accepts appointments


She plans to hold a press conference in a matter of hours from now.

Hurdles on the path to this appointment were cleared last week when South Korean withdrew her remaining rival and the United States endorsed her candidacy.

The organisation has been without a leader since August 2020 after Brazilian Roberto Azevedo threw in the towel, a year to the end of  his tenure.

The support of former US President Donald Trump for the South Korean candidate threw a spanner in the works for the Nigerian who was coasting to victory with overwhelming support from every other country.

The process was stalled because the choice of who becomes DG is made by the members through a consensus.

She now enters the final stretch with strong support from the European Union, the United States, and the African Union.

It is a difficult job which the Brazilian abandoned out of frustration that the organisation was unable to conclude trade talks and manage trade disputes.

Okonjo-Iweala, a Harvard-trained development economist rose to Number Two position in the World Bank and had a  glorious career as a public servant in Nigeria.

She managed the nation’s finances in two administrations and briefly served as foreign minister.

Her strong battle against corruption and its enablers nearly cost her mother her life when she was abducted.

She promises to lead the WTO with “boldness and courage” to make it relevant to fast evolving challenges of trade, including those promoted by the Covid-19 pandemic

She is also on the board of Twitter and chaired the Vaccine Alliance, Gavi.

In two hours, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes history as first woman and first black to head the World Trade Organisation(WTO).

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes history in 2 hours