The former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed as the new Director-General at the World Trade Organization. She made history as the first woman, and the first African, to lead the institution.
Today’s announcement that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the new director-general of the World Trade Organization is a tremendous boost for Africa and lines her up for one of the toughest jobs in the international system.
A panel at the WTO appointed her today for the position. Her term starts on March 1, 2021.
In her acceptance speech, she thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his immersely support and President Joe Biden of the United States, for his recommendation that gave her the breakthrough to this position.
Okonjo-Iweala will have to lead the charge for a revival of multilateralism, in the negotiating chambers of the WTO and for a better deal for developing economies, as well as for the practical matter of how reforming trade and patent rules can allow the distribution of life saving vaccines and therapeutics as the COVID-19 pandemic rips across the world on its second wave.
As the first woman and African to head the trade body, the former Minister has shattered a couple of ceilings at the same time. She also has a chance to put Africa’s plans to build the world’s biggest free trade area on the top table, pointing to the productive and market opportunities on the continent.