Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Biography
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist and international development expert.
She has held high-level positions in international organizations and served as a finance minister in the Nigerian government.Okonjo-Iweala is known for her expertise in economic development, finance, and foreign trade.
Ngozi Okonjo-iweala Biography
|Full Name||Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala|
|Date of Birth||13 June 1954|
|Place of Birth||Delta State, Nigeria|
|Citizenship||Nigeria and USA|
|Highest Qualification||Doctorate Degree|
|Social Media Handle||Twitter: @NOIweala, Instagram: @ngoziokonjoiweala|
Early Life And Education
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist, international development expert, and former finance minister. She was born on June 13, 1954, in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala grew up in a highly educated family, with both her parents being professors.
Her father, Professor Chukwuka Okonjo, was a renowned mathematician and economist, while her mother, Professor Kamene Okonjo, was the first female sociology professor in Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala attended primary school in Nigeria before moving to the United Kingdom for her secondary education. She attended the Queen’s School in Enugu, where she excelled academically and demonstrated her exceptional leadership skills.
She was the school’s first female student to become the Head Girl, and she led the school’s debating team to several victories.
After completing her secondary education, Okonjo-Iweala received a scholarship to attend Harvard University in the United States, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1977.
At Harvard, she was a top-performing student and received several academic awards and fellowships, including the Frank Knox Fellowship.
Okonjo-Iweala continued her education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she earned a Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development in 1981.
Her doctoral thesis, “Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria’s agricultural development,” focused on rural development in Nigeria and demonstrated her deep commitment to using economics to address development challenges in her home country.
During her time at MIT, Okonjo-Iweala was a research assistant to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a renowned economist and director of the Institute for International Development at Harvard University.
She also worked with the World Bank as a summer intern, where she began her long and illustrious career in international development.
Okonjo-Iweala’s education at Harvard and MIT provided her with the skills and knowledge necessary to tackle some of the world’s most pressing development challenges.
She has used her expertise to make significant contributions to the field of economics and finance and has received numerous accolades and awards for her work.
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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spent 25 years working as a development economist at the World Bank in Washington DC, rising to the position of Managing Director, Operations, which made her responsible for overseeing the Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolios in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia.
During her tenure, she led several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crises and the financial crisis. Additionally, she chaired the IDA replenishment in 2010, a successful drive that raised $49.3 billion in grants and low-interest credit for the world’s poorest countries.
Okonjo-Iweala was also a member of the Commission on Effective Development Cooperation with Africa, established by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, which held meetings between April and October 2008.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has had a long and distinguished career in government, spanning over several years and several different roles. Perhaps her most notable government position was as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy from 2011 to 2015.
During her time as Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala was instrumental in implementing a number of economic reforms that helped to stabilize Nigeria’s economy and improve its fiscal sustainability. One of her major accomplishments was the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system, which centralized government revenue and made it more difficult for corrupt officials to siphon off funds. The TSA system has been credited with helping to save Nigeria billions of dollars in wasteful spending.
In addition to the TSA, Okonjo-Iweala also negotiated several multilateral loans that financed significant infrastructure projects in Nigeria. These included a $500 million loan from the World Bank for the construction of new roads and bridges, and a $1 billion loan from China for the development of airport terminals and other transportation infrastructure.
Under Okonjo-Iweala’s leadership, Nigeria also saw its first-ever sovereign credit rating upgrade, which helped to attract foreign investment and improve the country’s economic prospects. She was also instrumental in negotiating a debt buy-back deal with the Paris Club of Creditors, which helped to cancel Nigeria’s $30 billion external debt and free up resources for development and poverty reduction programs in the country.
Prior to her appointment as Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala had served as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2006 under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. During this time, she played a critical role in negotiating the cancellation of Nigeria’s debt with the Paris Club of Creditors, which had been a major burden on the country’s finances.
Beyond her roles in the Nigerian government, Okonjo-Iweala has also served as a member of several international organizations and advisory boards. She was a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s International Advisory Panel.
Okonjo-Iweala’s contributions to public service and government have been widely recognized, and she has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. In 2015, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and in 2020, she became the first African and the first woman to be appointed as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Okonjo-Iweala’s legacy as a trailblazer and a role model for women in leadership positions continues to inspire and motivate people around the world.
Following her departure from government service, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala remained an active participant in global policy and development initiatives.
She served as a member of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity from 2015 to 2016, which was chaired by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance from 2017 to 2018, which was established by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.
In addition to her involvement in these organizations, Okonjo-Iweala has been co-chairing the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate since 2014 alongside Nicholas Stern and Paul Polman.
She was appointed as the chair-elect of the Board of Gavi in January 2016. She is also the founder of Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI-Polls, and the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a development research think-tank based in Abuja.
Furthermore, Okonjo-Iweala has served as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution.
Since 2019, she has been part of UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education, chaired by Sahle-Work Zewde. She has also been serving on the High-Level Council on Leadership & Management for Development of the Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health) since 2019.
In 2020, Okonjo-Iweala was appointed by the African Union (AU) as a special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She was also appointed by the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to an external advisory group to provide input on policy challenges.
In June 2020, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Okonjo-Iweala as the country’s candidate to be the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
She later advanced to the election’s final round and competed with Yoo Myung-hee. The European Union backed Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy ahead of the vote.
However, the United States government initially indicated that it would not back Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy. Nonetheless, the WTO’s formal report stated that Okonjo-Iweala “clearly carried the largest support by Members in the final round” and had “broad support from Members from all levels of development and from all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process.
On February 5, 2021, Yoo Myung-hee withdrew from the race, and the United States expressed its strong support for Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy.
Consequently, Okonjo-Iweala was unanimously appointed as the next Director-General on February 15, 2021, and began her career as Director-General of the WTO on March 1, 2021.
Okonjo-Iweala’s continued work in global economic development has led to her appointment as co-chair of the High-Level Independent Panel (HLIP) on financing the global commons for pandemic preparedness and response in early 2021.
The HLIP was established by the G20, and Okonjo-Iweala shares the co-chair position with Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Lawrence Summers.
Her expertise in international affairs has also made her a valuable member of the Multilateral Leaders Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics, and Diagnostics for Developing Countries, which was established in July 2021.
The task force is co-chaired by Tedros Adhanom and David Malpass, and Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement underscores her continued dedication to addressing global health challenges and promoting economic equity.
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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is known for being reserved and focused. She is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon, and they have four children.
Her father, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, was a renowned mathematician and scholar who served as Nigeria’s Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
Her mother, Prof. Kamene Okonjo, was Nigeria’s first female sociology professor and served as the country’s finance minister during the Second Republic.
Okonjo-Iweala is a Christian and a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. She is also a lover of music and enjoys playing the piano in her leisure time.
She has cited her faith and her family as sources of strength and motivation in her personal and professional life.
|Government Agencies||Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)||Member of the International Advisory Board||Since 2017|
|International Organizations||Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)||Member of the International Advisory Panel||Since 2016|
|International Organizations||OECD/UNDP Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB)||Member of the Board||–|
|International Organizations||GAVI||Chair of the Board||2016–2020|
|International Organizations||African Development Bank (AfDB)||Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors||2003–2006, 2011–2015|
|International Organizations||International Monetary Fund (IMF)||Member of the International Monetary and Finance Committee||2003–2006, 2011–2015|
|International Organizations||Joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee||Chair||2004|
|Corporate Boards||Danone||Member of the Mission Committee||Since 2020|
|Corporate Boards||Member of the Board of Directors||Since 2018|
|Corporate Boards||Standard Chartered||Independent Non-executive Member of the Board of Directors||Since 2017|
|Corporate Boards||Lazard||Senior Advisor||Since 2015|
|Non-profit Organizations||Africa Europe Foundation (AEF)||Member of the High-Level Group of Personalities on Africa-Europe Relations||Since 2020|
|Non-profit Organizations||Carnegie Endowment for International Peace||Member of the Board of Trustees||Since 2019|
|Non-profit Organizations||Bloomberg New Economy Forum||Member of the Advisory Board||Since 2018|
|Non-profit Organizations||Results for Development (R4D)||Member of the Board of Directors||Since 2014|
|Non-profit Organizations||Women’s World Banking||Member of the Africa Advisory Council||Since 2014|
|Non-profit Organizations||The B Team||Member||Since 2013|
|Non-profit Organizations||Friends of the Global Fund Africa||Member of the Board||Since 2007|
|Non-profit Organizations||Global Financial Integrity (GFI)||Member of the Advisory Board||Since 2007|
|Non-profit Organizations||African Risk Capacity||Chair of the Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||African University of Science and Technology||Chair of the Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security||Member of the Advisory Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Global Business Coalition for Education||Member of the Advisory Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||International Growth Centre (IGC)||Senior Advisor||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS)||Member of the Advisory Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Mercy Corps||Member of the Global Leadership Council||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Rockefeller Foundation||Member of the Board of Trustees||2008–2018|
|Non-profit Organizations||Nelson Mandela Institution||Chair of the Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||One Campaign||Member of the Board||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Oxford Martin School||Member of the Advisory Council||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||Vital Voices||Member of the Global Advisory Council||–|
|Non-profit Organizations||World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Foundation||Former Member of the Board
Awards And Nominations
Here is a list of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s notable nominations and awards.
- Honorary Doctorate from Brown University (2007)
- Honorary Doctorate from Colby College (2007)
- Honorary Doctorate from Amherst College (2010)
- Honorary Doctorate from Northern Caribbean University (2010)
- Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin (2012)
- Forbes Africa Person of the Year (2012)
- Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (2014)
- Fortune magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders (2015)
- Honorary Doctorate from Yale University (2015)
- Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Lion from Senegal (2017)
- Honorary Doctorate from Tel Aviv University (2017)
- Women’s Economic Empowerment Award from WEConnect International (2017)
- Officer of the Legion of Honour from France (2018)
- Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019)
- Zik Prize in Leadership (2020)
- Forbes Africa African of the Year (2020)
- Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (2020)
- Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) from Nigeria (2021)
- African Development Bank’s Africa of the Year Award (2021)
In addition to these honors, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has also been recognized as one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2011 and 2012, as well as one of Forbes magazine’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
She has also been listed as one of Forbes Africa’s Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa in 2012, and one of the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa in 2011.
The Guardian and Newsweek magazines have also listed her as one of the Top 100 Women in the World and the Top 150 Women in the World, respectively.
In 2011, she was listed among the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women by Women Deliver, and in 2018, she was recognized as one of the 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by Condé Nast International.
Okonjo-Iweala has been awarded several degrees from Nigerian universities, including Abia State University, Delta State University Abraka, Oduduwa University, Babcock University, University of Port Harcourt, University of Calabar, and Obafemi Awolowo University (Ife). In addition, in 2019, she was granted an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University.
- Sallah, Tijan; Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (2003). Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light, A Biography. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 978-1-59221-031-2. LCCN 2002152037. OCLC 50919841. OL 3576773M.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi; Soludo, Charles Chukwuma; Muhtar, Mansur, eds. (2003). The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 9781592210015. LCCN 2002007778. OCLC 49875048. OL 12376413M.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (2012). Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01814-2. LCCN 2012008453. OCLC 878501895. OL 25238823M.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (2018). Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-03801-0. LCCN 2017041524. OCLC 1003273241. OL 27372326M.
- Gillard, Julia; Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (2020). Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons. Penguin. p. 336. ISBN 9780143794288. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi; Keller, Janeen Madan (19 January 2016). “Shine a Light on the Gaps: Financial Inclusion Matters for Africa’s Smallholder Farmers”. Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (2016). “Funding THE SDGs: Licit and Illicit Financial Flows From Developing Countries”. Horizons: Journal of International Relations and Sustainable Development. 6 (6): 108–117. JSTOR 48573616.
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- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (March 2007). Want to Help Africa? Do Business Here (TED Talk). Archived from the original on 17 February 2021.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (June 2007). Aid versus trade (TED Talk). Archived from the original on 17 February 2021.
- Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi (10 January 2014). Don’t trivialise corruption, tackle it (TEDxEuston). Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
Okonjo-Iweala is said to be living okay and fine. Though, she doesn’t live a flamboyant lifestyle. Her net worth is unknown to the public.
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