Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a director of the World Bank, was Nigeria's Finance Minister and then briefly Foreign Affairs Minister from 2003 to 2006, the first woman to hold either position.
During her tenure as Finance Minister, she worked to combat corruption, make Nigeria's finances more transparent, and institute reforms to make the nation's economy more hospitable to foreign investment. The government unlinked its budget from the price of oil, its main export, to lessen perennial cashflow crises, and got oil companies to publish how much they pay the government.
Since 2003 -- when watchdog group Transparency International rated Nigeria "the most corrupt place on Earth" -- the nation has made headway recovering stolen assets and jailing hundreds of people engaged in international Internet 419 scams.
Okonjo-Iweala is a former World Bank vice president who graduated from Harvard and earned a Ph.D. in regional economics and development at MIT. Her son Uzodinma Iweala is the celebrated young author of Beasts of No Nation.
"Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a heroine not just of Nigeria, but of the entire continent. Her crusade against corruption has put her life at risk."
The Independent (UK)
AB (Hons) in Economics, Harvard University; PhD in Regional Economics and Development, MIT. 1982-2003, with World Bank: Development Economist; Vice-President; Corporate Secretary. 2003-06, Minister of Finance and Economy, Nigeria and Head, Presidential Economic Team; 2005, led team negotiating cancellation of US$ 18 billion of Nigeria's debt; 2006, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Financial Adviser, international investment groups in emerging markets; Distinguished Fellow, Brookings Institution. Member, boards and advisory groups. Recipient of awards: Time Magazine's European Hero of the Year Award (2004); one of 100 most powerful women in the world, Forbes (2006).
Labels: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala World Economic forum 2009 Capetown