Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is presently a managing director of the World Bank.
(At a Glance)
Place of Origin: Nigeria
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is presently a managing director of the World Bank. From June to August 2006, she was minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, overseeing Nigerias External Relations.
From July 2003 to June 2006 she served as minister of Finance and Economy of Nigeria and Head of Nigeria's much acclaimed Presidential Economic team responsible for implementing a comprehensive home grown economic reform program that stabilized the macro-economy and tripled the growth rate to an average 6 percent per annum over 3 years. Her achievements as Finance Minister garnered international recognition for improving Nigerias financial stability and fostering greater fiscal transparency to combat corruption.
In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that negotiated the cancellation of US $18 billion or 60 percent of Nigerias external debt with the Paris Club. The debt deal also included an innovative buy-back mechanism that wiped out Nigerias Paris club debt and reduced the countrys external indebtedness from US$35 to US$5 billion. Okonjo-Iweala oversaw Nigerias first ever Sovereign credit rating of BB- from Fitch and Standard and Poorsa rating that grouped Nigeria with other emerging market countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Philippines.
Previously, she pursued a 21-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, where she held the post of vice president and corporate secretary. This included two tours of duty (six years) working in the East Asia Region, the last tour (1997-2000) as country director Malaysia, Mongolia, Laos and Cambodia during the East Asian financial crisis; two duty tours in the Middle East Region, the last (2000-2003) as director, Operations (deputy vice-president) of the region.
Okonjo-Iweala also served as director of Institutional Change and Strategy (1995-1997). In this post she assisted with the implementation of the Banks reform agenda. From 1989 to 1991 she was special assistant to the Senior Vice President, Operations, an assignment that enabled participation in high level policy formulation and discussions for countries as diverse as China and Burkina Faso.
Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard and has a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is fluent in French, Ibo and English with working knowledge of Yoruba. She has received numerous awards, including Honorary Doctorate of Letters from University of Dublin, Trinity College, 2007, Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Colby College, 2007 and Brown University, 2006, Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica, 2005, Time Magazines European Hero of the Year Award, 2004, for her work on economic reform in Nigeria, Euromoney Magazine Global Finance Minister of the year, 2005, Financial Times/The Banker African Finance Minister of the year 2005, This Day (Nigerias premier newspaper) Minister of the Year award 2004 and 2005.
Okonjo-Iweala is a member or chair of numerous boards and advisory groups, including DATA, the World Resources Institute, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nelson Mandela Institution, Friends of the Global Fund Africa, and the African Institute of Science and Technology. She has served as adviser to several international investment groups working in emerging markets and lectured on Africa and development all over the world. Okonjo-Iweala was the founder of the first ever indigenous opinion research organization in Nigeria (NOI Polls) in partnership with the Gallup organization, which strives to strengthen democracy and accountability in Nigeria. She was co-founder of the Makeda Fund, a US$50 million private equity fund designed to invest in women-owned and women-influenced small and medium enterprises in Africa.
She is married to surgeon Dr. Ikemba Iweala and they have four children.
(Source: World Bank)
Photo: © World Bank / Simone D. McCourtie