African Union Congratulates New Director-General of WTO

ADDIS ABEBA – Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, has congratulated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was elected as Director-general of World Trade Organization (WTO).

Former Nigerian finance minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, become the first woman and the first African to be appointed as director general of the WTO. The decision was taken by consensus at a special meeting of the organization’s General Council on Monday.

The Chairperson “warmly congratulates Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria upon her formal selection”, the pan African bloc said in a statement issued late Monday.

“The Chairperson also commends the Council for confirming Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, which enjoyed strong global consensus, including the endorsement of the African Union,” said the statement.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala – who also holds US citizenship – is a former Managing Director of the World Bank.

She said her priority, starting from her formal appointment on 1 March, is to look at how WTO can help make access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics more accessible and affordable to poor countries.

“I believe that building trust is not just talking about it; you’ve got to do it by building through small steps, early wins and successes that can then help create the trust,” she said during an interview with the BBC.

The WTO faces numerous challenges in its work to settle trade disputes, counter growing protectionism, and to help steer the world out of the slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.