Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

From June to August 2006, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, overseeing Nigeria’s international relations.  She headed Nigeria’s acclaimed Presidential Economic Team, responsible for implementing President Obasanjo’s sweeping economic and social reform agenda for Nigeria.    

From July 2003 to June 2006, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, served as Minister of Finance and Economy for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  As Finance Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala managed the finances for Africa’s largest country of over 150 million people, with federation revenues of over $45 billion (2005).  Dr. Okonjo-Iweala led the work and the negotiations that resulted in an $18 billion or 60% cancellation of Nigeria’s $30 billion Paris Club debt, the second largest debt cancellation in the Paris Club’s 50 year history.  As a result of the debt cancellation and an innovative Debt Buy Back Scheme, Nigeria exited the Paris Club April 2006, thereby bringing the country’s external debt burden down from $35 to $5 billion.  Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also spearheaded the drive to get Nigeria’s first ever BB- Credit rating in January 2006 from international ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poors, a rating that placed Nigeria in the league of several emerging market countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Vietnam, Philippines and Turkey.

Prior to becoming Finance Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the World Bank Group where she pursued a 21 year career as a development economist.  Dr. Okonjo-Iweala graduated with an A.B. magna cum laude in Economics from Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She is the recipient of numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Brown University in 2006, one of America’s premier universities, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville Jamaica, Global Finance Minister of the year 2005 award, from Euromoney Magazine and Time Magazine European Heroes 2004 award.  Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is married to surgeon, Dr. Ikemba Iweala, and they have four children.

Source: University Programs and Events Planning Resources, September 2006