DURHAM, N.C. — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former finance minister of Nigeria and the first woman in the post, will discuss the challenges that come with encouraging investment in the African continent during a free public talk Thursday, Feb. 15, at Duke University. 

The Rethinking Development Seminar is from 5:30-7 p.m. in Perkins Library, Room 217. Doors open with a reception at 4:45 p.m. and parking is available in the Bryan Center Visitor Lot.  

As one of the most populous countries in Africa with 186 million people and a gross domestic product of $405.1 billion, Nigeria is at the forefront of concern for the international development community.

“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is one of the most recognized and admired leaders in the world of international development,” said Indermit Gil, director of Duke’s Center for International Development (DCID). 

Okonjo-Iweala was named one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders by Fortune magazine in 2015, one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine in 2014, and one of Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” in 2012.

Okonjo-Iweala spent more than two decades at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of managing director and overseeing an $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. In 2012, she was a candidate for president of the World Bank.

Okonjo-Iweala is the board chair of both Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, and the African Risk Capacity, an African Union initiative that helps member states respond to natural disasters. Since its creation in 2000, Gavi has immunized 580 million children globally and saved 8 million lives. 

“There’s an Africa you don’t hear about very much,” Okonjo-Iweala has said. “And sometimes I am puzzled and ask myself why. This is the Africa that is changing. … This is the Africa of opportunity.” 

DCID’s Rethinking Development Seminar Series features well-known thinkers and development practitioners from large, emerging economies. Okonjo-Iweala will be introduced by Michael Merson, vice president and vice provost for global affairs.

The talk is sponsored by the DCID, part of the Sanford School of Public Policy, and by the Duke Center for International and Global Studies (DUCIGS). 


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