Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Nonresident Distinguished Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a nonresident distinguished fellow with the Africa Growth Initiative in the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings. She is an economist and international development expert with over 30 years of experience. She is the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She was chair of the board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (2016-2020) and of the African Risk Capacity, ARC (2014-2020). Until recently, she was also co-chair of The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and sat on the boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. Previously, she served as senior adviser at Lazard from September 2015 to October 2019. Okonjo-Iweala was also recently appointed as the African Union’s COVID-19 special envoy (finance) and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 special envoy (ACT-accelerator).

Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s finance minister, from 2003-2006 and 2011-2015, and briefly as foreign minister, the first woman to hold both positions. She spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist working on economic development programs and policy reforms including trade policy in middle- and low-income countries. She rose to the No.2 position of managing director at the World Bank, overseeing an $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia.

Okonjo-Iweala was named Forbes African of the Year (2020), Minister of the Decade, People’s Choice Award (2020) by Nigeria’s This Day newspaper. She also received the International Service Award of the World Affairs Councils of America (2020) as well as the Aminu Kano Award for Leadership (2020). In 2019, she was named one of Transparency International’s 8 Female Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire. She has been ranked by Fortune as one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders in 2015, by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World consecutively for four years, by Time as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014, and by the U.K. Guardian as one of the Top 100 Women in the World in 2011.

Okonjo-Iweala holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and a doctorate in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is an Angelopoulos global public leader at Harvard University Kennedy School, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received 16 honorary degrees, including from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Tel Aviv University, and Trinity College, Dublin. She is the author of numerous articles on finance and development, and several books including “Women and Leadership—Real Lives, Real Lessons,” co-authored with Julia Gillard (Penguin Random House, 2020); “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines” (MIT Press, 2018); “Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria” (MIT Press, 2012); and “The Debt Trap in Nigeria,” co-edited with Charles Soludo and Mansour Muhtar (Africa World Press, 2003).

  • Current Positions

    • Director-General, World Trade Organization
    • Special Envoy of the African Union
    • Special Envoy of the World Health Organization
  • Past Positions

    • Board Chair, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
    • Board Chair, African Union's African Risk Capacity (ARC)
    • Co-Chair, The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate
    • Board Member, Standard Chartered PLC
    • Board Member, Twitter Inc.
    • Senior Adviser, Lazard
    • Minister of Finance, Nigeria, 2003-2006, 2011-2015
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria, 2006
    • Managing Director, The World Bank, 2007-2011
    • Development Economist, The World Bank
  • Education

    • A.B. in Economics, Harvard University
    • Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
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