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Nigeria/WTO: A who’s who of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s network

By Olivier Holmey

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Posted on May 5, 2021 09:24

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Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the new director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), relies on a solid network that ranges from Washington to Abuja. We map out who’s who in her world.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist who graduated from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she obtained her doctorate. She had a long career at the World Bank, where she ended up rising to the number two position, before making a name for herself in politics.

She served as Nigeria’s first female minister of finance and then (briefly) of foreign affairs. She is also the first woman and African to head the WTO.

The motivators 

Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi

Okonjo-Iweala’s aunt, the academic and author, who acknowledges her niece’s support in several of her works, is one of the WTO boss’ biggest motivators. Ogunyemi, who is a theorist of “womanism” – a concept that places the fight for women’s rights within a racial context – inspired Okonjo-Iweala to use the term.

In her latest book, Women and Leadership, Okonjo-Iweala states that she is a womanist who is fighting for gender equality.

Uzodinma Iweala

Her eldest son is another important family figure within her personal and professional life. Dr. Iweala is the CEO of the Africa Center in New York, which is a hyper-connected cultural centre funded by Aliko Dangote, among others.

He is also the author of the best-selling novel Beasts of No Nation, which has been adapted into a movie by Netflix, starring British actor Idris Elba.

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