Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Minister of Finance
In office
17 August 2011 – 29 May 2015
PresidentGoodluck Jonathan
Preceded byOlusegun Olutoyin Aganga
Succeeded byKemi Adeosun
In office
15 July 2003 – 21 June 2006
PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo
Preceded byAdamu Ciroma
Succeeded byNenadi Usman
Coordinating Minister for the Economy
In office
17 August 2011 – 29 May 2015
PresidentGoodluck Jonathan
Preceded byOlusegun Olutoyin Aganga
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
21 June 2006 – 30 August 2006
PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo
Preceded byOluyemi Adeniji
Succeeded byJoy Ogwu
Personal details
Born (1954-06-13) 13 June 1954 (age 65)
Ogwashi Ukwu, Nigeria
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA, PhD)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (born 13 June 1954) is an economist and international development expert. She sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

Previously, Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the Number 2 position of Managing Director, Operations (2007-2011). She also served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003-2006, 2011-2015) under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

Education and personal life[edit]

Okonjo-Iweala was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria where her father Professor Chukwuka Okonjo is the Eze (King) from the Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.

Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Queen's School, Enugu, St. Anne's School, Molete, Ibadan, and the International School Ibadan. She arrived in the US in 1973 as a teenager to study at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an AB in Economics in 1976. In 1981, she earned her Ph.D in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a thesis titled Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria's agricultural development.[1] She received an International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), that supported her doctoral studies.[2]

She is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon. They have four children[3] - one daughter, Onyinye Iweala (AB, MD, PhD, Harvard) and three sons, Uzodinma Iweala (AB, Harvard, MD, Columbia),[4] Okechukwu Iweala (AB, Harvard) and Uchechi Iweala (AB, MD, MBA, Harvard).


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the 2004 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group

Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank in Washington DC as a development economist, rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director. As Managing Director, 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 crises and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the IDA replenishment, the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.[5] During her time at the World Bank, she was also a member of the Commission on Effective Development Cooperation with Africa, which was set up by the Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark and held meetings between April and October 2008.[6]

Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and also as Minister of Foreign Affairs. She was the first female to hold both positions. During her first term as Minister of Finance under president Obasanjo’s Administration, 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.[7] In 2003 she led efforts to improve Nigeria’s macroeconomic management including the implementation of an oil-price based fiscal rule where revenues accruing above a reference benchmark oil price were saved in a special account, “The Excess Crude Account” which helped to reduce macroeconomic volatility.[8]

She also introduced the practice of publishing each state's monthly financial allocation, from the Federal Government of Nigeria in the newspapers. This action went a long way in increasing transparency in governance.[9] With the support of the World Bank and the IMF to the Federal Government of Nigeria, she helped build an electronic financial management platform-the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS), including the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), helping to curtail corruption in the process. As at 31 December 2014, the IPPIS platform had eliminated 62,893 ghost workers from the system and saved the Nigerian government about $1.25 billion in the process.[10]

Okonjo-Iweala was also instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's in 2006.[2]

Following her first term as Minister of Finance, she returned to the World Bank as a Managing Director in December 2007.

In 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was re-appointed as Minister of Finance in Nigeria with the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy by President Goodluck Jonathan. Her legacy includes strengthening Nigeria’s public financial systems and stimulating the housing sector with the establishment of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC).[11] She also empowered Nigeria’s women and youth with the Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria Programme (GWIN); a gender responsive budgeting system,[12] and the highly acclaimed Youth Enterprise with Innovation programme (YouWIN); to support entrepreneurs, that created thousands of jobs.[13]

This program has been evaluated by the World Bank as one of the most effective programmes of its kind globally. Under her leadership, the National Bureau of Statistics carried out a re-basing exercise of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),; the first in 24 years, which saw Nigeria emerge as the largest economy in Africa.[14] She took a lot of heat for the fuel subsidy removal policy by the Nigerian government, which led to protests in January 2012.[15] In May 2016, the new Nigerian administration eventually removed the fuel subsidy after it became apparent that it was unsustainable and inefficient.[16]

In September 2015, she joined Lazard as a senior advisor[17] and in January 2016 she was appointed Chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).[16] As at 2019, Gavi has immunized 700 million children globally and saved 10 million lives[18]

She is co-chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate, with Nicholas Stern and Paul Polman.[19] In July 2017, she became an independent non-executive director at Standard Chartered PLC. 2017[20]

Jack Dorsey announced on July 19, 2018 that Okonjo-Iweala had joined Twitter's Board of Directors.[21]

International development leadership and non-profit work[edit]

Okonjo-Iweala is Chair of the Board of the African Union's, African Risk Capacity, an innovative weather based insurance mechanism for African countries.[22] She is also Chair of the Board 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.[17] In addition, she is a member of numerous boards and advisory groups including the Harvard University Advisory Council, the University of Oxford's Martin School’s Advisory Council, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank's International Advisory Panel,[23] the International Commission on Financing Global Education (Chaired by Gordon Brown), the Japan International Cooperation Agency's International Advisory Board, the Mercy Corps International Advisory Council, Women’s World Banking, Results for Development Institute, the B Team (Co-founded by Sir Richard Branson), the Commission on the New Climate Economy (also co-Chaired by Mr Paul Polman and Lord Nicholas Stern) and the Global Development Network amongst others.

Previously, she served as the co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation[24] and Chair of the World Bank’s Development Committee (2004).

She was also a board member of the Rockefeller Foundation Board, the One Campaign, the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders, the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government’s, International Advisory Board, the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Foundation, the International Monetary and Finance Committee of the IMF (2003-2006 and 2011-2015), the United Nations’ Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Danish-Government-led Commission on Africa, the World Economic Forum Global Leadership Council on Transparency and Corruption, and the renowned Commission on World Growth, led by Nobel Prize winner Professor Michael Spence.

Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI-Polls.[25] She also founded the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA),[26] a development research think tank based in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution.

In 2012, Okonjo-Iweala was a candidate for president of the World Bank, running against Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim. If elected, Okonjo-Iweala would have been the first female president of the World Bank.[27]

Honors and awards[edit]

Okonjo-Iweala has received numerous recognitions and awards. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has been listed as one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015), the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014), the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy, 2011 and 2012), the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), the Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes, 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes, 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The Guardian, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek, 2011), the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011). She received the Women’s Economic Empowerment Award from WEConnect International (2017) and was listed among 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by Condé Nast International.[citation needed]

In 2019, Dr Okonjo-Iweala was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017, she received the Vanguard Award from Howard University. She also received the Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Award from the Aspen Institute. In 2016, she received the Power with Purpose Award from the Devex Development Communications Network and the Global Fairness Award from the Global Fairness Initiative, and she was also conferred High National Honours from the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and the Republic of Liberia. She is also the recipient of Nigeria's Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR). In addition, Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been awarded the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2014), the President of the Italian Republic Gold Medal by the Pia Manzu Centre (2011), the Global Leadership Award by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (2011) the Global Leadership Award by the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (2010), and the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award (2010). She is also the recipient of the TIME’s European Heroes Award in 2004, named Finance 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 (THISDAY, 2004 and 2005).[citation needed]

Okonjo-Iweala has received honorary degrees from 14 universities worldwide, including some from the most prestigious colleges: the University of Pennsylvania (2013),[28] Yale University (2015),[29] Amherst College (2009)[30] Trinity College, Dublin (2007)[31] Brown University (2006),[32] Colby College (2007).,[33] and Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica. She has also received degrees from a host of Nigerian universities including Abia State University, Delta State University, Abraka, Oduduwa University, Babcock University, and the Universities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Ife (Obafemi Awolowo). In 2019, Okonjo Iweala was awarded an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University.[34]


  • Fighting Corruption is Dangerous : The story behind the headlines - A frontline account from Nigeria's former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of how to fight corruption and lessons learned for governance and development. Published by MIT Press, (2018).[35]
  • Reforming The Unreformable: Lessons From Nigeria – an account of macroeconomic and structural reforms in Nigeria between 2003 – 2007, published by MIT Press, (2012)
  • Shine a Light on the Gaps – an essay on financial inclusion for African Small Holder Farmers, published by Foreign Affairs, (2015), co-authored with Janeen Madan
  • Funding the SDGs: Licit and Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries, published by Horizons Magazine, (2016)
  • Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light – a biography of Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, published by Africa World Press, (2003), co-authored with Tijan Sallah
  • The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy – an academic piece, published by Africa World Press, (2003), co-edited with Charles C. Soludo and Mansur Muhtar
  • Want to Help Africa? Do Business Here – A Ted Talk delivered March 2007[36]
  • Aid Versus Trade – A Ted Talk delivered June 2007[37]
  • Don't Trivialise Corruption, Tackle It – A Tedx Euston Talk delivered January 2013[38]


  1. ^ "Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria's agricultural development". Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Nigeria receives its first sovereign credit ratings". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and her son Uzodinma". The Sunday Times. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala". The B Team. 15 September 2016. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  5. ^ "World Bank's Fund for The Poorest Receives Almost $50 Billion in Record Funding". 15 December 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  6. ^ Commission on Effective Development Cooperation with Africa Folketing.
  7. ^ "Nigerian Debt Relief". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "GWiN (Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria) Gets the Limelight!". Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  13. ^ "What happens when you give $50,000 to an aspiring Nigerian entrepreneur?". Impact Evaluations. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Rebasing Makes Nigeria Africa's Biggest Economy". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Nigeria unions to resist 'criminal' fuel price hike". 12 May 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2017 – via
  16. ^ a b "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appointed Chair-elect of Gavi Board". Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - Washington Speakers Bureau". Retrieved 8 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala". Center For Global Development. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Members of the Global Commission". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Okonjo-Iweala named director at UK bank - Vanguard News". Vanguard News. Vanguard News. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Tweet by @jack". 19 July 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ Archived 18 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Elizabeth Flock, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank presidential candidate, says she would focus on job creation, Washington Post (April 9, 2012).
  28. ^ "Vice President Biden to speak at Penn's 257th Commencement | Penn Current". Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Yale awards nine honorary degrees at Commencement 2015". Yale News. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  30. ^ "2009 Honorees | Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | Amherst College". Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  31. ^ Dublin, Trinity College. "Recipients - Honorary Degrees - Registrar : Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  32. ^ "05-116 (Honorary Degrees)". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  33. ^ "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | Commencement". Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  34. ^ "Photo News: Okonjo-Iweala bags honorary PhD from Tel Aviv varsity". P.M. News. 17 May 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  36. ^ "Want to help Africa? Do business here". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  37. ^ "Aid versus trade". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  38. ^ "Redirecting". Retrieved 8 May 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Adamu Ciroma
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Nenadi Usman
Preceded by
Oluyemi Adeniji
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Joy Ogwu
Preceded by
Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Kemi Adeosun

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