Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Finance Minister, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2011-2015 and 2003-2006); Foreign Minister, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2006); Managing Director, The World Bank (2007-2011)

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Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the Minister of Finance of Nigeria and Coordinating Minister for the Economy (2011 to May 2015). In this role, she was responsible for managing the finances of Africa’s largest economy and the 8th largest country in the world. She was also responsible for the coordination of the conceptualization and implementation of economic policies and strategies and she chaired the 18-person Economic Management Implementation Team (EMIT)mandated to implement the Government’s Transformation Agenda.

She is renowned as the first female and black candidate to contest for the Presidency of the World Bank Group, backed by Africa and major developing countries, such as Brazil, in the first truly contestable race for the world’s highest development finance post.

From December 2007 to August 2011, she was managing director of the World Bank (the No. 2 position at the World Bank), where she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008–2009 food crisis and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was chair of the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.

From September 2006 to November 2007, she was Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC. Before that, she was Nigeria’s Finance Minister for three years and was briefly Minister of Foreign Affairs. The first woman to hold both positions. As Minister of Finance, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors that led to the wiping out of US$30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of US$18 billion or 60 percent.

Before her service as Minister of Finance in 2003, Okonjo-Iweala had a 21-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of Vice President and Corporate Secretary in 2002.

Okonjo-Iweala is chair of the AU's African Risk Capacity, a weather based insurance mechanism for African countries. She is also chair of the Nelson Mandela Institution—an umbrella body for the African Institutes of Science and Technology and chair of the board of the African University of Science and Technology in Nigeria. She is also a member of numerous boards and advisory groups, including the United Nations’ Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Rockefeller Foundation, University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government’s International Advisory Board, ONE Campaign, the Center for Global Development (CGD), the Women’s World Banking, Results for Development Institute, the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Foundation, the B Team (Co-chaired by Sir Richard Branson) and the Global Development Network (GDN) amongst others. She has also served on the advisory board of the Clinton Global Initiative and as an adviser to several international investment groups working in emerging markets. She is also a fellow of the Nigerian Economic Society.

Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of Nigeria’s first ever indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI Polls. She founded the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a development research think tank based in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. She was a member of the Danish-government-led Commission on Africa, a member of the World Economic Forum Global Leadership Council on Transparency and Corruption, and of the renowned Commission on World Growth, led by Nobel Prize winner, Professor Michael Spence. She is also a member of the Commission on the New Climate Economy led by President Felipe Calderon.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University—three of America’s most prestigious universities, in addition to honorary doctorates from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica, Amherst College and Colby College in the United States of America. She also has honorary doctorate degrees from a host of Nigerian universities including: Abia State University, Delta State University, Oduduwa University, Babcock University, the Universities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Ife (Obafemi Awolowo).

In 2014, she was awarded the David Rockefeller “Bridging Leadership Award” and in 2011, she received the President of the Italian Republic “Gold Medal” by the Pia Manzu Centre, and the “Global Leadership Award” by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She is also the recipient of TIME magazine’s “European Heroes Award” in 2004, and the Bishop John T. Walker “Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award” in 2010. She was namedFinance Minister of the Year” (Africa Investor Magazine, 2014), “Finance Minister of the Year for Africa and the Middle East” (THE BANKER, 2004), “Global Finance Minister of the Year” (EUROMONEY 2005), “Finance Minister of the Year for Africa and the Middle East” (Emerging Markets Magazine, 2005), and “Minister of the Year” (THIS DAY, consecutively for 2004 and 2005)

Okonjo-Iweala has been ranked among the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015), Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014), the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy journal consecutively for 2011 and2012), the Top 50 Most Notable Nigerians Who Have Contributed the Most to 50 Years of Nigerian Development (THISDAY, 2010), the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes Magazine, consecutively for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), the Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes Magazine 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes Magazine 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The Guardian UK Newspaper, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek Magazine 2011) and the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011). She has also been listed among 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by the Condé Nast International Business Intelligence Magazine.

Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard University and has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of several books and numerous articles, including Reforming the UnReformable: Lessons from Nigeria, (MIT Press, 2012) and The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy (Africa World Press, Trenton, New Jersey 2003).

In the little free time she has, Okonjo-Iweala enjoys swimming, reading and writing poetry. She is also committed to inspiring the next generation of leaders and as such spends her time mentoring younger professional men and women.

She is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a surgeon and they have four grown children and two grandchildren.