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technology 25 Nov 2019

Dr.Okonjo-Iweala becomes the First Woman and African to serve as the WTO Director-General

By Waiswa Wafula

Former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Chairperson of Gavi (the vaccine Alliance Board) and World Bank economist Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as the next World Trade Organizations Director-General on Monday 15th February 2021. This appointment makes her the first woman and first African to head the global international organization.

This decision was reached through a consensus agreement among representatives from all 164 member countries who met at a meeting on Monday 15th February. Among the eight preferred candidates from around the globe, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the preferred candidate especially after the Biden administration took office withdrawing their support for The South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee who withdrew from the race shortly after.

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In an acceptance speech at the World Trade Organization headquarters given by a video link on the official WTO twitter page, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she was honoured to have been selected for the position and would work with the organizations member countries to address health issues brought by the pandemic

“A strong W.T.O. is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said. “It’s been a long and tough road, full of uncertainty, but now it’s the dawn of a new day and the real work can begin,” she said.

Her key priorities would be to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought by the pandemic. “The challenges facing the W.T.O. are numerous and tricky, but they are not insurmountable.” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said.

She also pointed out her initial priorities to reporters in a news conference on Monday, including working with other international organizations to creating lasting rules for responding to pandemics and making progress in two negotiations over fishery subsides and digital trade.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala takes over from Mr. Robert Azevedo of Brazil the former WTO Director-General who left office on 31st August 2020 after announcing earlier in May. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala starts her renewable four year term on the 1st of March 2021 set to expire on 31st August 2025.