WTO Elections: Odds Against Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala


Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of Africa’s most respected technocrats, has locked horns with seven other candidates gunning for the top job at the World Trade Organization (WTO), as the current DG, Roberto Azevedo sets to step down in August.
But what chance does Dr. Okonjo-Iweala stand to become the next Director-General of the global trade body?

The WTO is an International organization established in 1995 to deal with the global rules of trade between nations, pushing for a coherent and smooth regulation of trade among nations of the world.

Presently, the organization has 164-member nations and 24 observer governments.

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Okonjo-Iweala, a finance and international development expert, is Nigeria’s nomination for the position.

However, she is facing seven other high flying candidates from Africa, Europe, the Middle-East, North America, and Asia who were also nominated by their governments.

The Egyptian candidate, Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, a senior official of WTO since 1990 and an international trade lawyer, is one of the Africans contesting for the position.

Mamdouh, a nominee of the African Union boasts of a long career in trade policy and diplomacy.

Starting out as a commercial attache in Egypt’s ministry of economy and foreign trade, Mamdouh worked up the ranks, playing key roles at the WTO and partaking in negotiations that have contributed to the standing of the international organisation till date.

Another contender is Amina C. Mohamed, Kenyan’s former minister of foreign affairs and international trade.

Mohamed served as her country’s permanent representative to the WTO for six years, emerging as the first woman to chair the General Council of the WTO in 2005, before her appointment as minister. She’s a law degree graduate and a Chevening fellow alumna.

On the other hand, with a combination of experiences working as a development economist, finance and international development expert, Okonjo-Iweala comes with a set of unique core competencies that position her as a great candidate for the job.

She graduated with a degree in economics from Harvard University in the United States (US) and also earned a doctorate degree in regional economics and development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also in the US.

The development economics expert also has 15 honorary degrees from top universities around the world including Yale, Brown, and University of Pennsylvania.

Beyond her ivy league education, Okonjo-Iweala, has served twice as Nigeria’s finance minister, after a successful career in the World Bank, rising to the level of Managing Director.

One of her achievements as a Minister in Nigeria was her clinching a multi-billion dollar debt relief package for Nigeria.

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