Namibia preferred candidate for the director general post of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has prevailed to take charge of the Switzerland-based institution.
The former Nigerian finance minister became the first woman and the first African citizen to take on the role.
President Hage Geingob in October last year disclosed Namibia will be supporting the candidature of Okonjo-Iweala for the director general post of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Okonjo-Iweala (66) takes over from Roberto Azevedo of Brazil, who stepped down at the end of August last year. She contested against South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. “When it comes to Africa, Nigeria is there. Nigeria talks for Africa. When individuals had excelled in their respective roles, they needed to be supported. Namibia continued to support Okonjo-Iweala, notwithstanding the difficulties of a political union or government,” Geingob said at the time. Born in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala graduated from Harvard University in 1976 and then earned a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She then became the first woman to take on the Nigerian finance ministry and the foreign ministry too.
She was also the first female to run for the World Bank presidency, where she spent 25 years. In October, her WTO candidacy was supported by all geographic regions at the trade body apart from the United States, where the then-Trump administration said it would continue backing the Korean candidate.
However, Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment was cleared when President Joe Biden announced a few days ago his support for the 66-year-old.
The WTO is a global organisation that deals with the rules of trade between different nations. It has over 160 members, representing 98% of the world’s trade.