The World Trade Organization (WTO) has appointed Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its seventh Director-General. She becomes the first woman to lead the Switzerland-based institution and the first African citizen to take on the role. Her term starts on 1st March 2021 to 31st August 2025.
Born in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala graduated from Harvard University in 1976 and then earned a PhD from MIT. She then became the first woman to take on the Nigerian finance ministry and the foreign ministry too. She was also the first female to run for the World Bank presidency, where she spent 25 years.
Okonjo-Iweala also serves on Twitter’s Board of Directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance, as well as a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 fight. She saw her candidacy get a boost when the EU threw its weight behind her.
According to Dr Ngozi, a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the coronavirus crisis hit, the WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to trade wars between the United States and China.