Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala to make history

03 March 2021 | International

BBC



Having survived the murky waters of politics in Nigeria, where her mother was kidnapped to send her a message, and rising to number two at the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should have no trouble dealing with international trade negotiators in her new job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The 66-year-old is the first woman, and the first African, to occupy the position.

Despite recently taking out US citizenship, she revels in being Nigerian and is fiercely patriotic - flaunting her African identity in her African-print tailored outfits.

She told the BBC in 2012 that she had in fact adopted such attire as a working mother of four to do the school run, an easy answer for a smart look - and a thrifty one at that, given she estimated each outfit cost around US$25.

The Harvard-educated development economist is seen as a down-to-earth, hard worker, who told BBC HardTalk in July that what the WTO needed was a shake-up.

“They need something different; it cannot be business as usual for the WTO - [they need] someone willing to do the reforms and lead.”

During her 25 years at the World Bank, she is credited with spearheading several initiatives to assist low-income countries, in particular raising nearly US$50 billion in 2010 from donors for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for the poorest countries.

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