Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed in July 2011 as the new Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala is a globally renowned Nigerian economist best known for her two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria and for her work at the World Bank.
Prior to this appointment, she was the Managing Director of World Bank from October 2007 to July 2011 and has also held the position of a Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of Nigeria, between 2003 and 2006.
Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman to hold either of those two positions.
Prior to her ministerial career in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala was Vice President and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group. She left it in 2003 after she was appointed to President Obasanjo’s cabinet as Finance Minister.
In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay a portion of Nigeria’s external debt, $12 billion, in return for an $18 billion debt write-off. Prior to the partial debt payment and write-off, Nigeria spent roughly $1 billion every year on debt servicing, without making a dent in the principal owed.
Okonjo-Iweala also introduced the practice of publishing each state’s monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers. She was instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.
Oknojo-Iweala made a failed bid for the World Bank Presidency in 2012. She managed to produce a 6.5% increase in GDP from 2011 to 2012.
Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a PhD in regional economic development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981.
Nigeria is the third largest economy in Africa with nearly $50 billion in foreign reserves.