Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala biography: 13 things about economist born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Nigeria

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist, international development expert and author. She received honorary degrees from 15 universities worldwide and honorary doctorate degrees from several universities in Nigeria.

Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a development research think tank based in Abuja, Nigeria, and NOI-Polls, the first ever indigenous opinion-research organization in Nigeria.

For 25 years, Okonjo-Iweala worked as a development economist at the World Bank. Here are 13 more things about her:

  1. She was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria. Her father Chukwuka Okonjo was the king from the Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu. (a)
  2. She went to Queen’s School in Enugu, Nigeria, St. Anne’s School in Molete, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria and the International School Ibadan in Ibadan. (a)
  3. In 1973, she relocated to the United States to study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. (b)
  4. In 1976, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in economics. (c)
  5. In 1981, she earned her PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. (c)
  6. Her husband Dr. Ikemba Iweala is a neurosurgeon. They have four children together. (c)
  7. In 2003, Africa World Press published her book “The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy” and the book “Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light,” which she co-authored with Tijan Sallah. (c)
  8. She served as the finance minister of Nigeria from July 15, 2003 to June 21, 2006 and from August 17, 2011 to May 29, 2015 and the country’s foreign minister from June 21, 2006 to August 30, 2006. She is the first woman to hold both positions. From 2003 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2015, she was a member of the International Monetary and Finance Committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (c) (d)
  9. She was the chair of the African Risk Capacity (ARC) from 2014 to 2020 and the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance from 2016 to 2020. (d)
  10. From September 2015 to October 2019, she served as senior advisor at Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management firm headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda. (d)
  11. In 2019, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (c)
  12. In 2020, she was appointed as African Union (AU) COVID-19 Special Envoy and World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Special Envoy. (d)
  13. On February 15, 2021, it was announced that she was appointed as the seventh director-general of the World Trade Organization. She will assume office on March 1, 2021. She is the first African and the first woman to hold the position. (e)



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