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The Other Side of The Coin: The Role of African Governments and Allyship in Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s Success at WTO

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February 7th, 2023

The Other Side of The Coin: The Role of African Governments and Allyship in Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s Success at WTO

At Spurt! We are always looking to amplify solutions to critical and specific problems in Sub Saharan Africa. This week we reviewed Observations from an Armchair Expert: My Letter to Ngozi Okonjo — Iweala by Isaac Kwaku Fokuo Jr.

When we think about development and globalization from the perspective of Africans, there’s a lot to be desired. It is important to note that globalization is not a zero-sum game, it is not a necessity for other countries to lose so that others can gain. As Isaac Fokuo aptly captured in the article, the importance of trade can seldom be understated when globalization works in the favour of a particular country.

As Dr Ngozi Okonjo — Iweala has officially taken the helm at WTO, there are heightened expectations on what African countries are set to gain from this historical development. The gains will not happen in a vacuum, African states will also need to rise to the occasion and be able to meet this pivotal moment.

With the ratification of the AfCFTA, the trade atmosphere is certainly ripe for disruption. According to the WEF, the pact will make Africa the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of countries participating.

The age-old question seems to surround the status of how policies of different African countries will pave the way for a new wave of change. It is indeed true that while globalization amplifies the rewards of good economic policies, poor policies create loopholes that tend to pay the price at a premium.

The biggest gap for African policymakers now that regional integration is no longer a pipe dream due to AfCFTA taking full charge would be closing the loop on existing labour skills, digital infrastructure and creating a solid framework for owning and regulating Africa’s digital data.

As Fokuo summarizes his letter, he underscored a very important point that is rarely focused on. It is true that leadership doesn’t have to be a lonely journey, especially for a black woman leading a multilateral organization like WTO.

Right now, more than ever, allyship would be crucial for Dr Iweala. Just recently, a Swiss publication put out an apology after publishing a racist and sexist headline about her. It was refreshing to see women leaders across the world unite in condemning the newspaper.

The Director-General acknowledged the support of the UN Women Leaders and 124 ambassadors in Geneva for rallying the signing of a petition to hold the media house accountable. Gestures like these really affirm the point that sisterhood and allyship will go a long way in ensuring that Dr Iweala is successful.

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