Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed Monday as the first female and first African head of the World Trade Organization, at a special general meeting. Picture: Emma Farge/Reuters
Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed Monday as the first female and first African head of the World Trade Organization, at a special general meeting. Picture: Emma Farge/Reuters

Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala named first female, African WTO boss

By AFP Time of article published Feb 15, 2021

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Geneva - Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed on Monday as the first female and first African head of the World Trade Organization, at a special general meeting.

"WTO members have just agreed to appoint Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general," the global trade body said in a statement, adding that the former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank veteran will take up her post on March 1.

The WTO picks its leaders through consensus-finding, so even though she was the only candidate still in the race - boasting US, EU and African backing - there was always the chance of a spanner being thrown in the works.

She will take over an organisation mired in multiple crises and struggling to help member states navigate the severe global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala argued during the race that she was best placed out of the eight candidates for the post to steer the WTO through the crises.

"I am a reform candidate," she insisted.

She has among other things warned that growing protectionism and nationalism have been spurred on by the pandemic and insists barriers need to be lowered to help the world recover.

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