FORMER Nigerian finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed as a special envoy for the newly inaugurated Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr Okonjo-Iweala, 65, who served as Nigeria’s finance minister twice during the administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, currently sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the African Risk Capacity. Since 2019, Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been part of Unesco’s International Commission on the Futures of Education.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the African Union (AU) has named Dr Okonjo-Iweala as its special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. Now, she has been given another major role in the fight against the pandemic, where she will serve alongside British business executive Sir Andrew Witty to mobilise international commitment to the initiative.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said: “I would especially like to thank Sir Andrew Witty and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for agreeing to act as special envoys for the Act Accelerator. The initiative is an international collaboration aimed at accelerating the development, production, and equitable distribution of Covid-19 drugs, tests kits and vaccines around the world.”
This is the fourth international assignment given to Dr Okonjo-Iweala in less than two months. On March 7, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa appointed her a member of the country’s Economic Advisory Council, which comprises indigenous and international economic experts.
A month later on April 10, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva, named Dr Okonjo-Iweala a member of the fund’s external advisory group. On April 12, she was also named as one of the four special envoys the African Union appointed to mobilise international support for its efforts toward addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
The AU special envoys are charged with soliciting the support of the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions for the organisation’s response. Dr Okonjo-Iweala is an internationally respected economist and development expert, who has served as managing director of the World Bank, among things.