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A view of the Yaba district in Lagos June 25, 2015. At first glance, Yaba is like many other parts of Nigeria's sprawling commercial capital: a cacophony of car horns and shouting street vendors, mingling with exhaust fumes and the occasional stench of sewage. But in between the run-down buildings in this seemingly inauspicious part of Lagos, a city of around 21 million, tech start-ups are taking root and creating a buzz that is drawing international venture capitalists and more established digital firms. Picture taken June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye - RTX1M6LS
Up Front

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, development hacks, and the power of digital record-keeping

A nationwide innovation in India was picked up by Nigeria to eliminate ghost workers who were sucking the government’s payroll and even collecting pensions. As the digitization process expanded, it also made inroads toward giving identities to thousands of Nigerians whose invisibility had left them unable to plug into modern life, whether for banking, health care, or registering land. 


The woman who made it happen was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who recounted how she did it on August 4 when she delivered the Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Lecture of Aspen Global Innovators.

Okonjo-Iweala, current chair of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and a senior advisor at Lazard, served Nigeria as finance minister and as foreign minister and held several positions at the World Bank, including managing director.

Schooled as an economist, Okonjo-Iweala cuts through jargon and, in her “Development and Diplomacy” lecture, shares tough lessons she has absorbed as a woman leader:

Her “Development and Diplomacy” lecture was co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Brookings Blum Roundtable. This year’s roundtable, which tackled the theme “U.S. Development Assistance Under Challenge,” featured experts from the public, civil society, academic, and security sectors. Read the six briefs commissioned for the 2017 BBR here.

Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission is detailed here. The Unique I.D. Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Aadhar Act are described here.


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