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20 Interesting facts about Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a name synonymous with economic reform, global finance, and impactful leadership.
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Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a name synonymous with economic reform, global finance, and impactful leadership. She is a renowned economist who has broken numerous barriers and set high standards in international economic policy and governance.

Here are 20 facts about Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that highlight her life, career, and accomplishments.

1. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was born on 13 June 1954 in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria.

2. She hails from a royal family, being the daughter of Professor Chukwuka Okonjo, the Obi (King) of the Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.

3. Okonjo-Iweala attended Queen’s School in Enugu for her secondary education before proceeding to St. Anne’s School in Molete, Ibadan.

4. In pursuit of her academics, moved to the United States, where she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1976 with an AB in Economics.

5. She furthered her education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a PhD in Regional Economics and Development in 1981.

6. Okonjo-Iweala’s career at the World Bank spanned over 25 years. She rose through the ranks to become Managing Director, the second-highest position at the institution, where she was responsible for overseeing operations in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia.

7. In 2003, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, becoming the first woman to hold this position and serve two terms.

8. During her tenure as Finance Minister, she was instrumental in negotiating a significant debt relief deal with the Paris Club, which led to the cancellation of $18 billion of Nigeria’s debt and a further $12 billion repayment.

9. Okonjo-Iweala established Nigeria’s first Sovereign Wealth Fund to manage excess oil revenues.

10. She introduced various measures to enhance transparency and reduce corruption in Nigeria’s public finance sector.

11. She was named the Global Finance Minister of the Year in 2005 by Euromoney magazine and one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine in 2014.

12. From 2016 to 2020, she served as the Chair of the Board of GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

13. In March 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made history by becoming the first woman and the first African to be appointed as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

14. Okonjo-Iweala is a strong advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

15. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also an accomplished author. She has written several books and articles on economic reform, development, and finance. Notable among her works are “Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria” and “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines.”

16. She is a member of several prestigious international organisations, including the African Union’s Panel of Eminent Persons and the Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees. Her insights and expertise are highly sought after in various global forums.

17. She also holds honorary degrees from over a dozen universities worldwide, including Yale, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania.

18. She has served in advisory capacities for several international organisations, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

19. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon and their marriage is blessed with four children.

20. She was part of the Twitter Board of Directors until 2021 when she stepped down bshe was appointedment as the DG of WTO.

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