AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
The African Union (AU) has asked all Africans to rally behind Nigerian Dr Nkonzo Okonjo-Iweala, who stands on the brink of making history as the first African to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
AU chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has heaped praise on Dr Nkonzo Okonjo-Iweala who together with South Korean Yoo Myung-hee are the two finalists for the position of the director-general of the WTO.
Ramaphosa said Okonjo-Iweala was a highly distinguished African, who has excelled in various public offices, in her native Nigeria, including responsibilities in the AU, and in numerous international assignments.
“At a time when international organisations need to be repurposed, Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the right person to reposition the WTO in order to be an effective instrument for facilitating a fair, just, equitable and rules-based trading system. I have no doubt that she has the credentials and capability to restore order in an otherwise turbulent multilateral trading system,” he said.
President Ramaphosa encouraged all AU member states to rally behind Okonjo-Iweala during the final round of nominations, which will see for the first time in the history of the WTO, the appointment of a female Director-General and most likely and preferably, one coming from the African continent.
THE AU chairperson expressed optimism that other regions and countries would also unite and support the African candidate, whose leadership of the WTO would assist in the full integration of the continent as an important player in the global multilateral trading system, particularly at the time when the Continent is working on operationalising the biggest free trade area in the world, the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Ramaphosa also expressed pride in the high calibre of the candidates from the continent, including Abdel Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt and Amina Mohamed of Kenya.
Okonjo-Iweala was elated at making the final round. “Happy to be in the final round of the @wto DG campaign. Thanks, WTO members for your continued support of my candidacy. I could not have made it without the prayers and support of all Nigerians and friends around the world. Thank you @MBuhari and all my friends. Aluta continua!,” she said in a message posted on her Twitter timeline.