#54DegreesAcrossAfrica: 4 reasons Ngozi Okonjo Iweala might be the best candidate for the WTO job

A month ago, three out of the eight candidates for the role of the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were Africans. Now, there are two of the eight candidates shortlisted and one of them, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is from Africa.

In an article by Olu Fasan for the Vanguard, he said, “Reading the biographies of the eight candidates for the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, it’s obvious that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has the most intimidating and awe-inspiring credentials.” After pointing out her achievements, he went further to say:

But no African has led the organisation. Of the eight candidates, now two for the next DG, three, now one is from Africa, two each from Europe and Asia and one from North America. Surely, if having an awe-inspiring CV is enough to become the WTO’s Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would be a shoo-in for the job. But an intimidating CV is not enough. Politics will play a major role too! Put simply, the candidate whose country is viewed positively by other WTO members will attract more support than the one whose country is not. Unfortunately, Nigeria belongs to the latter category; it’s seen as isolationist and unreliable, with very few genuine friends among other nations.

However, her fellow candidate, Yoo Myung-he of South Korea, shortlisted for the same role is as good though not with the same amount of grit, fervour and humour, that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has.

As Dimeji Akinloye pointed out in his article, he said “Whoever occupies the position is expected to be battle-ready for a range of challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S-China trade war, a hobbled arbitration system, among others.”

See those 4 reasons we think Okonjo-Iweala should emerge WTO Director-General:

1. Endorsements: She has been endorsed by Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister; Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote;The Economist; Nigeria’s House of Representatives; Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar; and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

2. Experience: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-born economist and international development expert. She sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

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 the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

3. Vision: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala sure knows what needs to do when she gets the role. She believes that trade between countries should be a win-win situation. She had this to say in an interview with African Report “We have to think of things like aid for trade. To what extent can some of the institution building that is required, help Africa take advantage of the multilateral trade system? What does Africa need to do behind its own borders to trade more with the world? It will have to produce more, it will have to process its own raw materials.” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is very passionate about Africa and how Africa interacts with the world, trade-wise. She has a plan, she has the imagination required to see the world trade with more organization.

4. Character: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in an interview with TheAfricanReport said that “To get people back to those fundamental principles, to see that sometimes when you’re involved in an issue so deep down, you need someone who can step back, bring a fresh pair of eyes and ears.”

And I believe that’s what I’m going to do. That’s why I think that I can bring qualities that will help move this organization. You need energy, you need enthusiasm, you need to see opportunity where there are challenges, and that’s me.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has shown that you can diligently build a future by being present and doing what needs to be done now. She, indeed, inspires a lot of women on the continent and beyond, building credibility as she travels.

Her ability to have built resilience is one of the reasons she’s operating in the capacity she is operating as now.


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