Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), recently spoke in an exclusive interview with Africa Policy Journal, calling on African nations to develop regulations to promote digital trade and e-commerce on the continent. She praised the efforts of young people who are engaging in digital trade and stressed the importance of creating a level playing field to support their efforts.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also emphasized the importance of gender empowerment in promoting inclusion in international trade. She pointed out that women involved in international trade earn twice as much as those who are not involved in similar ventures.
In addition, the Director-General called on African countries to address the challenges of infrastructure and border crossing, and to engage in manufacturing to make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) more effective. Despite serving around 1.4 billion people, trade between African countries accounts for only 15%, while the trade volume with the rest of the world is only 3%, according to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. She urged the continent to work harder to address this challenge.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a global finance expert, economist, and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in various parts of the world. She took office as WTO Director-General on March 1, 2021, and is known for her ability to negotiate win-win outcomes and build consensus among stakeholders.
She also served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister twice, from 2003-2006 and 2011-2015, and briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006, becoming the first woman to hold both positions. During her tenure, she carried out significant reforms that improved the effectiveness of these ministries and the functioning of the government machinery.
The interview was conducted by Enitan Okedji, APJ’s Lead Interview Editor.