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Former Vice President of Communications and Policy Outreach
Given the opportunity to study in the US, she was encouraged to return home every year. "Privilege... must be used for something larger than you," she says.
These days, Okonjo-Iweala is widely known as a leading figure in development. She served as Finance Minister of Nigeria from 2011 to 2015, and as Foreign Affairs Minister before that – the first woman to hold either of those positions.
As Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala oversaw a plan to reduce Nigeria’s debt burden by $30 billion, helping to boost Nigeria's economy. That plan included contributions from CGD. Today, Okonjo-Iweala is a CGD board member and distinguished visiting fellow, and her recent essay, “Six Questions African Policymakers Must Answer Now,” has been garnering attention around the world.
This week she joins me on the CGD Podcast to discuss those questions, which include: How will African policymakers finance the global goals? How can African countries diversify their economies?
“If you truly want to diversify, you need a plan,” Okonjo-Iweala tells me in the following clip. “In a democracy… you need a social compact where the population agrees that no matter who takes over the government, they’re going to continue developing certain things in certain ways.”
"That’s not happening in many of our countries," she says.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.
The world is in the throes of a health, economic, and social crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slower global growth has significantly worsened the economic prospects for all countries, including the poorest ones. Low-income countries (LICs) are also finding it more difficult to service their external debt as well as to access private capital—concessional and non-concessional