A native of Nigeria’s Delta State in the south, and born in 1954, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a force to be reckoned with. In 2014, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. She was listed on Forbes Magazine’s 100 most powerful women in the world for four consecutive years from 2011 to 2014, and on 2012’s list of the three most powerful women in Africa. Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of NOI-Polls, an organisation that delivers data on public opinion and consumer markets and the Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a non-profit focusing on applied research on economic policy issues. Since 2015, she has served on the board of Lazard Limited as a senior adviser and was appointed chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in 2016. The initial years of Okonjo-Iweala’s career were spent as a development economist at the World Bank. Later, she returned home and became the first Nigerian female foreign minister and finance minister between 2003 and 2006. After her tenure as finance minister, she moved back to the World Bank in 2007 where she became the Managing Director. Subsequently in 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was re-appointed Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy by President Goodluck Jonathan. She was the first black woman to run for the World Bank presidency in 2012, but lost against America’s candidate, Jim Yong Kim. One of her key legacies was the rebasing of the Nigerian GDP in 2013, which led to the country’s emergence as the largest economy in Africa. A graduate of Harvard University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics and graduated magna cum laude, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also holds a PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A mother of four children, Okonjo-Iweala is a recipient of numerous accolades including honorary doctorates. Her book on Nigeria’s economic reforms, Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria, was released in 2012.
Politician and Economist