Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala


• She is to serve alongside the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline

• Gets fourth international appointment in two months



The World Health Organization (WHO) has named Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former minister of finance, a special envoy for the newly inaugurated Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator.

She is to serve alongside Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, in the same capacity.

The duo is expected to mobilise international commitment to the initiative.


The ACT Accelerator

Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, announced the appointments during the launch of the ACT Accelerator — via webinar from Geneva.

The initiative is an international collaboration aimed at accelerating the development, production, and equitable distribution of COVID-19 drugs, tests kits, and vaccines around the world.


List of Okonjo-Iweala’s recent international appointments

NAN reports that this is the fourth international assignment given to Okonjo-Iweala in less than two months.

  • On March 7, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa appointed her a member of the country’s economic advisory council. The council advises the president and government on the development and implementation of economic policies toward advancing inclusive growth.


  • A month later on April 10, Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), named Okonjo-Iweala a member of the fund’s external advisory group. The group comprises individuals from around the world who will serve as Georgieva’s special advisers.


  • Okonjo-Iweala is one of the four special envoys appointed by the African Union (AU) on April 12 to mobilise international support for its efforts toward addressing the coronavirus pandemic. The AU special envoys are charged with soliciting the support of the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions for the organisation’s response.

Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and development expert, who has served as managing director of the World Bank.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala served Nigeria as Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy during the 2010 -2015 administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan.


Among most powerful women

In 2015, Forbes Magazine  ranked Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala among the top one hundred most powerful women in the world, according to a NewsPlus report.

In its citation on her, Forbes wrote:

 “The minister of finance for Nigeria, has helped the country’s economy, the largest in Africa, grow an average of 6% (per annum) over three years.

She is credited with developing reform programs that helped improve governmental transparency and stabilizing the economy. Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman to be the finance minister and the foreign minister of the West African country with a GDP of $502 billion.

Harvard- and M.I.T.-trained Okonjo-Iweala spent 21 years as a development economist at the World Bank”

Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala shares the rare honour with global icons such as US former presidential candidate and former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, ranked at number 2; US Reserve Bank head, Janet Yellen (4); IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde (6); Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff  (7); America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama (10); Argentinian President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (16); Queen Elizabeth the Second , ranked at number 41; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who was ranked as the most powerful woman in the world.



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