In celebrating Africa’s recent achievements through the appointment of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the seventh Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), we have invaded the press office of the WTO to share with you information about this powerful African princess who is on a driving seat of the world’s trade . Her story was Jambo Africa Online’s November edition’s cover story. The DG took office on 1 March 2021, becoming the first woman and the first African to serve as Director-General. Her term of office will expire on 31 August 2025.
Who is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala?
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. Dr Okonjo-Iweala was formerly Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Since its creation in 2000, Gavi has immunized 760 million children globally and saved thirteen million lives. She was previously on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. She was recently appointed as African Union (AU) Special Envoy to mobilise international financial support for the fight against COVID-19 and WHO Special Envoy for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. She is a skilled negotiator and has brokered numerous agreements which have produced win-win outcomes in negotiations. She is regarded as an effective consensus builder and an honest broker enjoying the trust and confidence of governments and other stakeholders.
Previously, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala twice served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006, the first woman to hold both positions. She distinguished herself by carrying out major reforms which improved the effectiveness of these two Ministries and the functioning of the government machinery. She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director, Operations. As a development economist and Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala steered her country through various reforms ranging from macroeconomic to trade, financial and real sector issues.
She is a firm believer in the power of trade to lift developing countries out of poverty and assist them to achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development. As Finance Minister, she was involved in trade negotiations with other West African countries and contributed to the overhaul of Nigeria’s trade policy enabling it to enhance its competitiveness. She has closely followed developments at the WTO, as she believes that a strengthened multilateral trading system is in the interests of all countries, particularly least developed and African countries.
She is renowned as the first female and African candidate to contest for the presidency of the World Bank Group in 2012, backed by Africa and major developing countries in the first truly contestable race for the world’s highest development finance post. As Managing Director of the World Bank, she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Dr Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crisis and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.
As Minister of Finance in Nigeria, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors that led to the wiping out of $30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of $18 billion. In her second term as Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala was responsible for leading reform that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthened institutions against corruption, including the implementation of the GIFMS (Government Integrated Financial Management System), the IPPMS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management System), and the TSA (Treasury Single Accounts).
Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been listed as Minister of the Decade, People’s Choice Award by Nigeria’s This Day newspaper (2020), one of Transparency International’s 8 Female Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire (2019), one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015), the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014), the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy, 2011 and 2012), the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), the Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes, 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes, 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The UK Guardian, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek, 2011), and the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011). She has also been listed among 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by Condé Nast International.
In 2020, she became an Angelopoulos Global Public Leader at Harvard University Kennedy School. She was also appointed to the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) for President of South Africa His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa. In 2019, Dr Okonjo-Iweala was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017, she received the Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Award from the Aspen Institute, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Award from WEConnect International, and the Vanguard Award from Howard University. In 2016, she received the Power with Purpose Award from the Devex Development Communications Network and the Global Fairness Award from the Global Fairness Initiative in recognition of her contribution to sustainable development. She was also conferred High National Honours from the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and the Republic of Liberia. She is also the recipient of Nigeria’s third highest National Honors Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).
In addition, Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been awarded the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2014), the President of the Italian Republic Gold Medal by the Pia Manzu Centre (2011), the Global Leadership Award by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (2011) the Global Leadership Award by the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (2010), and the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award (2010). She is also the recipient of the TIME Magazine’s European Heroes Award in 2004, named Finance Minister of the Year (Africa Investor Magazine, 2014), Finance Minister of the Year for Africa and the Middle East (THE BANKER, 2004), Global Finance Minister of the Year (EUROMONEY, 2005), Finance Minister of the Year for Africa and the Middle East (Emerging Markets Magazine, 2005), and Minister of the Year (THISDAY, Newspaper 2004 and 2005).
Dr Okonjo-Iweala is currently also Chair of the Board of the African Union’s African Risk Capacity (ARC), an innovative weather-based insurance mechanism for African countries; and co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate with Lord Nicholas Stern and Mr Paul Polman. She is also Chair of the Board of the Nelson Mandela Institution, an umbrella body for the African Institutes of Science and Technology, and Chair of the Board of the African University of Science and Technology, Abuja. Dr Okonjo-Iweala is a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She presently serves on the following advisory boards or groups — the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Harvard University International Advisory Board, the Oxford University Martin School Advisory Council, Mercy Corps International Advisory Board, Women’s World Banking Africa Advisory Board, the International Commission on Financing Global Education (Chaired by Gordon Brown), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Advisory Board, Tsinghua University Beijing — School of Public Policy and Management Global Advisory Board, the CARICOM (Caribbean) Commission on the Economy, the Bloomberg Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health, and Tax Inspectors Without Borders of the OECD among others. She is a member of the B Team of Business and Civic Leaders cofounded by Sir Richard Branson, a board member of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Foundation, and also co-chair and board member of Lumos, an Africa focused renewable energy company.
Previously, she was also a Senior Adviser at Lazard (2015-2019) and she served as the co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation with UK Secretary Justine Greening, and Chair of the World Bank’s Development Committee (2004). She was also a member of the International Monetary and Finance Committee of the IMF (2003-2006 and 2011-2015), the United Nations’ Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Danish Government-led Commission on Africa, the World Economic Forum Global Leadership Council on Transparency and Corruption, and the Commission on World Growth (led by Nobel Prize winner Professor Michael Spence). She served for a decade on the Rockefeller Foundation Board and the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders. Dr Okonjo-Iweala has also served on the advisory board of the ONE Campaign, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Global Development Network, and the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of Nigeria’s first ever indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI-Polls. She also founded the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a development research think tank based in Abuja, Nigeria. She is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development, and also at the Brookings Institution, premier Washington D.C. think tanks.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University (1976) and earned a Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 1981). She has received honorary degrees from 15 universities worldwide, including from: Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Trinity College (University of Dublin), Amherst College, Colby College, Tel Aviv University, and Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica. She also has honorary doctorate degrees from a host of Nigerian universities including Abia State University, Delta State University, Oduduwa University, Babcock University, and the Universities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Ife (Obafemi Awolowo).
She is the author of numerous articles and several books, including Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons co-authored with Julia Gillard (Penguin Random House, July 2020), Finding A Vaccine is Only the First Step (Foreign Affairs, April 2020), Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines (MIT Press, 2018), Reforming the UnReformable: Lessons from Nigeria, (MIT Press, 2012), Mobilizing Finance for Education in the Commonwealth (Commonwealth Education Report 2019), Shine a Light on the Gaps — an essay on financial inclusion for African Small Holder Farmers (Foreign Affairs, 2015), Funding the SDGs: Licit and Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries (Horizons Magazine, 2016), and The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy (Africa World Press, 2003). She also co-authored with Tijan Sallah the book Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light (Africa World Press, 2003).
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is married to neurosurgeon Dr. Ikemba Iweala. They have four children and three grandchildren.
The DG addresses her first Trade forecast press conference
I want to welcome you to the release of the WTO’s flagship annual trade statistics and trade forecast. This is my very first participation in that event and I want to thank you all for being with us today.
Let me start with the story of the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week.
We all saw that hundreds of ships were backed up in a traffic jam. Others went around the Cape of Good Hope adding considerable number of days and costs to their journey. Estimates said nearly $10 billion dollars of trade was being affected each day.
The fact that the Ever Given was able to cause so much disruption is a sign that global merchandise trade is relatively robust — and that global supply chains have held up through the pandemic.
The word ‘relatively’ is important: the volume of world merchandise trade still contracted by 5.3% in 2020. But this contraction was smaller than initially feared.
Following a sharp decline in the first half of the year, trade recovered more quickly than expected in the second half of 2020. This rebound has continued, and the WTO’s baseline trade forecast foresees an 8% increase in the volume of world merchandise trade for 2021.
Trade growth is expected to slow to 4% in 2022. It’s important to note that this would still leave trade below its pre-pandemic trend.
COVID-19 continues to pose the greatest threat to the outlook for trade. New waves of infection could easily further undermine any hoped-for recovery.
The rapid development of effective vaccines has given the world a realistic chance of stopping this disease in its tracks and jump-starting the world economy at the same time, but this opportunity could be squandered if large numbers of countries and people do not have equal access to vaccines.
A rapid, global and equitable vaccine roll-out is the best stimulus plan we have for the strong and sustained economic recovery that we all need.
Ramping up the production and deployment of vaccines in all countries will allow businesses and schools to reopen more quickly and help economies get back on their feet.
Depending on how quickly we can bring the pandemic to an end, trade could either see a major resurgence over the next two years, or it could experience a weaker, more prolonged recovery.
Accelerated vaccinations would allow containment measures to be relaxed sooner, which could raise trade growth up to 2.5 percentage points above the baseline forecast in 2021 — returning trade to the pre-pandemic trend.
On the other hand, if supply shortages continue, or if vaccine-resistant strains of the virus emerge, trade growth could end up 2 percentage points below the baseline forecast.
Overall, we believe that the balance of risks to the forecast is considered to be on the downside, but upside potential exists if countries make wise policy choices.
Large monetary and fiscal injections in advanced economies helped prevent a bigger downturn last year — a major factor in why growth and trade have both outperformed projections from last year. But these support measures will not be enough to bring an end to the crisis. Only by ramping up production of vaccines and making them more widely available can we hope to get the world economy back to full speed.
The possibility that many countries will be left behind as we emerge from the crisis is a major concern. Despite the broad-based nature of the global economic recovery to date, there are signs of divergence in trade flows across regions.
If the current WTO forecast is realized, exports from Asia at the end of 2021 would be 10% higher than they were in 2019, while most other regions would see smaller increases or modest declines.
For example, exports of Europe and North America’s would be steady, while shipments from Africa and the Middle East would be down 4% and 3%, respectively.
The import side would see declines in South America (‑3%), Africa (-2%) and the Middle East (-6%), while Asia (+5%) and North America (+7%) would increase, reflecting the relative strength of their economic recoveries.
In this context, a rise in protectionism would be damaging not just to global economic growth but to vaccine production as well. Manufacturing vaccines requires inputs from many countries. As we have cited and heard many times, one leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer says that their vaccine needs 280 components sourced from 19 different countries. You can see how complicated the supply chain still is. Trade restrictions would make it even harder to ramp up production, leading to more unequal economic and health outcomes.
The WTO has helped to keep trade flowing during the crisis. Now, the international community must leverage the power of trade to expand access to life-saving vaccines.
Messages congratulating Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
These quotations are a selection of public messages of congratulation to Dr Okonjo-Iweala following her appointment as Director-General. The selection includes messages from heads of state and IGOs, senior political and business leaders, and prominent civil society representatives.
Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
“At a time of great change, and facing the challenge amounting to little less than the reconstruction of the international and trace architecture of the world, and with so many great challenges to the multilateral system, the unanimous decision to appoint Ngozi Okinjo-Iweala is a significant one, and one supported by Ireland. I send my congratulations to Ms. Okonjo-Iweala as she, the first female and first African to lead the WTO, takes up her role.”
Achim Steiner, Administrator – United Nations Development Programme
“Congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her historic election to become the first African and the first woman to be appointed as WTO’s next Director-General. We at UNDP wish her all the best in this new role.”
Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director
“Congratulations to the inspiring Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on becoming the first female Director-General of WTO. Global trade is essential to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and UNICEF looks forward to working with you to ensure that the recovery benefits children and young people everywhere.”
“Congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for joining the WTO as Director-General. Not only she is the first woman and African to hold such position, but we are sure she will bring an anti-corruption lens to the organization’s work.”
United States Trade Representative
“Congratulations to Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala! On Monday she was confirmed as the new DG for the WTO and we’re looking forward to working together.”
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of Rockefeller Foundation
“Congratulations to former RF Trustee Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the first female and first African Director General of WTO ! She will bring the same dedication to equity to WTO as she did to the World Bank and Gavi, key to an inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery.”
Herbert Diess, CEO Volkswagen Group
“Congratulations Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala! Your track record gives hope for a very successful WTO phase, fostering international trade, growth and sustainability. I especially like your ideas on carbon pricing – a real driver to fight climate change. Wish you a good start!”
Emmanuel Macron, President of France
“Congratulations Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your appointment. I am grateful for our discussion today. We share the goal of an ambitious reform of the WTO to better regulate trade, make it work for all and reconcile it with our environmental agenda. Things are moving! Let’s work together.”
Christa Schweng, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
“On behalf of the European Economic and Social Committee I want to congratulate Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as Director-General of the World Trade Organization and I wish her a successful mandate. This appointment in itself brings wind of a much awaited change and marks a historic achievement.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana
“The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has congratulated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her “historic” appointment as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.”
Mo Ibrahim Foundation
“The Mo Ibrahim Foundation welcomes the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As its first female and first African leader, this is a significant moment.”
His Majesty King Mohammed VI , King of the Kingdom of Morocco
“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you most warmly on your appointment as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. The confidence of WTO Member States is a clear indication of their recognition of the managerial skills and great professionalism you have shown in the various positions you have held, both in your country, our sister nation, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and at international level .”
Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade- Canada
“An effective rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, is essential to the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and for Canada’s future prosperity. Given the WTO’s global stature, strong leadership is required to bring together like-minded countries and make trade more efficient and beneficial for everyone.”
João Lourenço, President, Angola
“On behalf of the Angolan executive and on my own, I congratulate you on your election to the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization. I wish you many successes in the perormance of your new duties, on this great stage of international diplomacy.”
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
“Congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria on her historic appointment as the first female and first African Director-General of the World Trade Organization. I look forward to strengthening the UN-WTO partnership, especially at this critical moment for the world.”
Patricia Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secreatry-General
“I warmly congratulate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment to this highly important position Her robust knowledge and understanding of Commonwealth Trade and development priorities will be of value as she leads WTO in bringing even more inclusive approaches to global negotiations on trade.”
Dr. Natalia Kanem , Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund
“Warmest congratulations to my sister Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – the first woman and the first African to be chosen as WTO Director-General.UNFPA wish you much success!”
Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General of Interpol
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your appointment as the next WTO Director-General. National, regional and global security supports economic development and trade, and INTERPOL continues its efforts to make the world a safer place.”
Cyril Ramaphosa , President of South Africa
“Heartfelt congratulations to the new WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and first African to lead this global institution. Her election signals a global unity of purpose and demonstrates a strong commitment to deepening gender equality.”
Victoire Dogbe, Prime Minister of Togo
“Congratulations on your historical appointment Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala! Wishing you great success!”
Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on becoming the first woman and African to be elected as WTO Director-General. I look forward to our productive interactions to highlight India’s commitment towards free and fair global trade.”
Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
“Warm congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala—newly appointed Director-General of the WTO. You are blazing new trails as the first woman and first African to lead WTO. You inspire us. The UN looks forward to working with you to keep the promise of the SDGs for people and for planet.”
Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala new DG WTO ! Our joint article on closing the gender gap in the green economy is worth rereading! Women empowerment is good for the planet, for democracy – and it’s also smart economics!”
Jan Beagle, Director General of the International Development Law Organization
“My warmest congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on becoming the first woman and first African to lead WTO as Director-General. IDLO looks forward to working together to advance 2030 Agenda and the SDGs ensuring no one left behind.”
Mathias Vicherat, General Secretary, Danone
“Congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, member of Danone’s Mission Committee, on her historical appointment as head of the World Trade Organization: she is the first woman to lead the WTO. A great source of inspiration for all of us.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Luxembourg
“Jean Asselborn congratulates Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as first African & first woman WTO Director General: “I wish you every success for your mission. You can count on Luxembourg’s support as you work to strengthen WTO and trade multilateralism”.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Belgium
“Belgium warmly congratulates Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her nomination as new Director General of WTO. As a member of the EU and the WTO, Belgium will support the new DG to address the challenges facing the organization.”
Marise Payne, Foreign Minister, Australia
“Australia warmly congratulates Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as WTO Director-General today. As the first woman to hold this pivotal international role, her leadership will be key to upholding and promoting the rules based global trading system.”
Ruhsar Pekcan, Minister of Trade, Republic of Turkey
“I would like to congratulate Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for her appointment as the WTO DG. I believe that a strong female leader like Ms. Iweala will play an important role in the implementation of development-based policies that will serve the benefit of all countries in the WTO.”
Christian Klein, CEO, COO and Member of the Executive Board of SAP
“I’d like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as head of WTO. We can always benefit from Ngozi’s frank and determined leadership style. She’s making history & will make history in many ways.”
Luis Arce Catacora, Presidente de Bolivia
“Saludamos a Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, electa Directora General de la Organización Mundial del Comercio. Es la primera mujer en estar al frente de este organismo. Hacemos votos porque su gestión contribuya a la consolidación de un sistema de comercio justo entre los pueblos.”
“Congratulations to Carnegie trustee Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her historic appointment to head the World Trade Organization. With deep appreciation for her service to Carnegie, we wish her well in this new endeavor.”
José Manuel Barroso, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance Board Chair
“Congratulations Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for your appointment! I am very honoured to succeed you at Gavi, and I am sure you will be equally brilliant and competent in this much deserved new role.”
Toki Mabogunje, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industy
“The news of the confirmation of Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the Director General of the World Trade Organization [WTO] was received by the LCCI with great excitement. There is no question that it is an appointment that is very well-deserved having regard to her pedigree, impeccable credentials, intellectual depth, and robust experience. This is a trail blazing appointment. She is the first African, and the first woman to occupy the exalted position of WTO Director General.”
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan
“The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has congratulated the Director-General of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on being appointed to this high and responsible post, reports ‘Dunyo’ IA correspondent.”
Damien O’Connor, Minister of Trade and Export Growth New Zealand Government
“Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor congratulated Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her ground-breaking selection as the next Director General of the World Trade Organization last night.”
U.S Chamber of Commerce
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcomed today’s announcement that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will become the seventh Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the first woman in the role since the organization’s creation in 1995.”
Nigeria Governors Forum
“Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala pedigree as a well-known global development economist, who has served at some of the most prestigious global financial institutions, apart from her illustrious years as Nigeria’s Finance Minister raises hopes around the world that her tenure at the WTO will herald remarkable changes in the face of the economic challenges currently afflicting the world.”
Hiroshi Kajiyama, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industy, Japan
“I congratulate the selection of Her Excellency Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the Special General Council Meeting on February 15 in Geneva.”
Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General
“Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has welcomed the historic appointment of former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the World Trade Organization, the first woman and representative of the African continent to do so.”
MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Foreign Minister, Japan
“Japan welcomes the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) by consensus of the Members on Monday, February 15.”
David Malpass, President of the World Bank
“Congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her selection as WTO Director General – an excellent choice. As Managing Director of the World Bank Group she was at the center of our global operations and I look forward to a strong new working relationship.”
Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of OECD
“Congratulations to my dear friend Ngozi. The WTO could not have hoped for a better leader to strengthen multilateralism and promote a strong and resilient economic recovery. Count on the OECD’s full support!”
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme
“Warmest congratulations to my former boss and mentor Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your appointment as Director-General of WTO. Trade has such a huge role to play. We at UNEP look forward to deepening our collaboration in the years ahead.”
QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealal on your appointment as the new WTO Director-General and for making history! I look forward to working together in support of achieving the SDGs, especially SDG2, SDG1 and SDG10 and for the benefit of our Members.”
Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
“Congratulations to my dear big sister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on becoming today the first woman and first African to be elected as Director General of WTO. Congratulations!”
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
“Congratulations dear sister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on becoming WTO’s first African and first woman leader! This is exciting – history is made!”
Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as DG WTO. Your leadership couldn’t have come at a more critical time. There will be no recovery without resuming back to a situation where we also see growth in trade. We have to do everything that is possible to get trade negotiations back on track.”
Phumzile Mlambo, Executive Director of UN Women
“IWD2021 and CSW65 are all about women’s leadership. As we gear up to celebrate the occasion, let’s uplift and recognize women making herstory. Congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria who is appointed as the next WTO Director-General. Wishing you the best!”
Seth Berkley, CEO Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance
“Congratulations to my dear friend Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ! This appointment is incredibly well-deserved and I wish you all the best as you bring your expertise and passion to your new role. We look forward to having you in Geneva!”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General to the World Health Organization
“Glad to see my sister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appointed as WTO Director General. Your great experience, skills and advocacy to tackle today’s challenges, incl Vaccin Equity, make you WTO’s perfect chief. I look forward to working with you to help the world recover from COVID-19.”
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Center
“I wish to add my personal words of welcome and support to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her once again shattering the glass ceiling to become the first female and first African DG of WTO! I am commited as Executive Director of ITC to partner with her to make trade more inclusive.”
Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for your appointment as WTO Director-General! It is a landmark for gender equality. It is an assurance of first-class leadership to work on the recovery we need and the shared prosperity we want. I look forward to our collaboration.”
Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
“Heartfelt congratulations to my dear friend Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on being confirmed as head of WTO! Fantastic news for the world and for women. I wish you all the best as you deploy your tremendous skills and experience for multilateral cooperation on trade!”
Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development
“Congratulations Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your appointment as the new Director-General of WTO. We welcome you to this challenging journey to facilitate economic recovery and address climate change, in particular for small-scale farmers and producers.”
Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank
“Congratulations to my friend Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on becoming the first female Director General of the WTO. I’ve known Ngozi for many years. Her strong will and determination will drive her to tirelessly promote free trade to the benefit of people worldwide.”
Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization
“Delighted to congratulate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as new WTO Director-General. This is good news for international trade and good news for the multilateral system. I look forward to continued cooperation on trade and labour issues, decent work and the SDGs, to help ensure a better future of work.”
Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
“On behalf of the Federal Government and all Nigerians, I congratulate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her election as Director General of the World Trade Organisation, bringing joy and more honour to the country. I believe her track record of integrity, diligence and passion for development will continue to yield positive results and rewards to mankind, and that she will validate the global mandate of repositioning and strengthening the WTO for the greater good of all.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ! This is an historic moment for the entire world. I’m so glad to see a woman from Africa at the head of the WTO. Europe is fully behind you. We support the reform of the WTO and will help you protect the rules-based multilateral trading system.”
Charles Michel, President of the European Council
“My warmest wishes to Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealaon your appointment as Director General of WTO. You bring a wealth of experience and expertise at a time when the WTO needs reform. Count on full support of the EU.”
Roberto Azevêdo, Former WTO DG
“Delighted WTO members have appointed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as their next DG. I wish her every success. I urge members to work with her to continue to advance needed reforms and seize trade’s full potential to bolster pandemic response efforts and drive strong global economic recovery.”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia
“Extending my heartfelt congratulations to my small sister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her new post as Director-General of the WTO. It has been an honor to witness your groundbreaking journey, and I am eternally grateful for your support as an EJS Center, Board Member and Amujae Coach.”
Edgar Srinkevics, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Latvia
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on being selected as the new Director General of WTO. Rules based and fair international trade is of paramount importance to all. I pledge Latvia’s support to streamline the work of the World Trade Organisation in order to achieve this task.”
Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Nigeria
“Warm congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on making history with your selection as the Director General WTO. We are confident that you will achieve excellent results while setting high standards with your new role. Once again, you have made us all proud.”
Arancha Gonzalez, Minister of Foreign Affairs European Union & Cooperation of Spain
“Another thick glass ceiling broken! Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Spain will be fully behind you to ensure trade works for all.”
Franck Riester, Ministre délégué chargé du Commerce extérieur et de l’Attractivité
“A historic day for WTO, with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as 1st woman and 1st African DG ! France will support her to lead the reform the WTO needs.”
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, Germany
“Peter Altmaier gratuliert Frau Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala zur Ernennung als neue WTO Generaldirektorin. Außenwirtschaft zur Ernennung als neue WTO-Generaldirektorin.”
Ghada Fathi Waly, Director-General/ Executive Director of United Nations Office at Vienna/ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
“Congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 1st woman & 1st African to lead WTO. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, you have made history and together we will work for an inclusive recovery and fairer future!”
Cecilia Malmström, Former EU Trade commissioner
“History indeed. Congratulations and good luck Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.”
Geoffrey Onyeama, Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria
“Warmest congratulations, Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your well deserved appointment as the first woman and first African Director-General WTO. Nigeria and Africa are very proud of you.”
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as new WTO Director General. Norway is looking forward to working with you in support of a reformed and strengthened multilateral rules-based trading system.”
Mary Ng, Minister of Small Businesses, Export Promotion, Canada
“Congratulations Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your historic appointment as WTO Director-General. I look forward to working together with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala on an inclusive and sustainable global economic recovery, and continuing our efforts with the Ottawa Group to modernize the WTO.”
Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
“Finally the right decision at the WTO! Warmest congratulations to fellow The B Team Leader Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on being named Director-General. Ngozi makes history and will drive the collective action our world needs.”
Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), Japan
“Minister Kajiyama congratulated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as new WTO DG, anticipating her leadership. Japan commits to updating the WTO rulebook with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other WTO members to make the multilateral trading system more current.”
Susana Malcorra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship for the Republic of Argentina
“Congratulations Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for your appointment as Director General at the WTO. Not only you broke another “glass ceiling”, you will proof the value of your appointment, as a woman, delivering real results that are impactful!”
Goodluck E. Jonathan, Former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
“I congratulate Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who served as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Minister of Finance in my cabinet, on her emergence as the new Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), after a long-drawn-out selection process. I am convinced that your leadership of the 164 nation-member organization will bring about improved trade relations and progress across the world’s different economic spectrum.”
Meryame Kitir, Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation
“Congratulations to Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala , the new head of WTO. A strong woman with a lot of experience to lead the World Trade Organization. This gives hope.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Commission Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People and Trade Commissioner
“Congrats Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on your ratification to become next WTO Director-General! The EU salutes your historic achievement as 1st female & 1st African to hold this position. We look forward to working closely with you to reform the WTO, making it fit for purpose for today’s world.”
Itamaraty, Brazilian Foreign Ministry
“Brazil congratulates the new Director-General of the WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , on being chosen to head the Organization and looks forward to working with her to promote a free, fair, prosperous and dynamic international trading system. Good luck! Boa sorte! Brazil is ready to work with the new leadership to reform the WTO in its 3 pillars, negotiations, dispute settlement and transparency, and to tackle unfair competition and trade distorting subsidies in all sectors. WTO also needs to promote further liberalization in agriculture.”
Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Germany
“Congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the appointment as Director-General of the WTO! Jointly, we aim to strengthen rules-based international trade and to tackle economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships
“Congratulations to my sister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is set to become the Director General of the WTO! I’m convinced that you are the right person to lead the modernisation of the WTO, and I look forward to working with you. As you know, you can count on the European Commission’s support.”
Anna Hallberg, Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affair
“Today the WTO has appointed Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a new Director General. I look very much forward working together with Ngozi, making WTO and multilateral cooperation our key objective in order to promote open, fair and sustainable trade.”
Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
“Congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her historic appointment as the first African, female Director-General of WTO. No person is better placed to bring the WTO members together and push for reforms. Best of luck, and the Netherlands is ready to support your work wherever we can.”
Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, UK
“Congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as Director General of the WTO. I look forward to working with her to: Drive reform at the WTO and tackle issues like industrial subsidies, forge new rules in modern areas like digital and data, and promote free and fair trade. “
“Congratulations Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala! We look forward to working together to contribute to the safety and quality of international food trade.”
John Denton, ICC Secretary General
“I look forward to working with the incoming WTO DG Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to support a renewal of the multilateral trading system – specifically, one that ensures international trade plays a central role in ending the pandemic & driving a resilient global recovery.”
Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post
“To change how we face the most pressing challenges of our time, we need to change who is in power. I’m thrilled to see my fellow The B Team Leader Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appointed as the first female Director-General at the WTO. Congrats, Ngozi!”
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission
“My warmest congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala upon her confirmation as the next DG of WTO, becoming the first woman and first African to head WTO in its 25 year history, a double historical precedent! The AU is pleased that the global consensus in favour of her inspiring leadership, prevailed.”
Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, National President of the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mine and Agriculture
“The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) heartily welcomes the confirmation of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director General of the World Trade Organisation. This action by the WTO Council is a reaffirmation of the confidence of the global community in the capacity of Dr Okonjo-Iweala to deliver as the DG Of the WTO. Coming at a time of much needed reforms, this is a right step in the right direction as Trade has been identified as one of the key and strategic options for growth and development and in the efforts to revamp the global economy and economies of developing countries in particular.”
Moussa Faki Mahamat , Chairperson of the African Union Commission
“The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat warmly congratulates Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria upon her formal selection by the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization.”
Brazil -Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“Brazil congratulates all member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General (DG) of the WTO at the extraordinary virtual meeting of the General Council held today, February 15, 2021.”
Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
“On behalf of the Federal Government and all Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari warmly felicitates with former Minister of Finance and Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her election as Director General of the World Trade Organisation, bringing joy and more honour to the country.”