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Opinion: World trade organisation: Why an African should be made the head

The world's trade governing body, the World Trade organisation (WTO) is set to choose a new head in weeks time. With three of the eight candidates coming from Africa, one of the being the head would be very good for the continent.

It is a matter of concern amongst African diplomats that someone from their continent should be made the head of one of the world's top economic institutions.Other economic institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have been headed by the person's from other continents. As the world Bank has always been headed by an American, while an European has always headed the International Monetary fund (IMF). In order not to make the continent feel marginalized, either Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Kenya's Amina Mohamed or Egypt's Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh could be made the head, so the continent feels it is playing in the same league as the rest of the world. The WTO sets the rules for global trade, and according to it's website is meant to "open trade for the benefit of all".

The organisation through its leader has the ability to get global agreements done, and can also act as a mediator for trade disputes between nations, as the director-general attends G7 and G20 meetings.

What could the African continent gain from being made the head aside the diplomatic role assigned to the position??.

Though the director-general's role is primarily one of an administrator, an African leader could help ensure that the plights and interests of the continent are taken into consideration. Trade talks are mostly esoteric, but their outcome have adverse effects on man's life. Every one is at one point or the other involved in trade.

In Africa, trade has proven in recent times to be a driver of growth and development and also as a tool for poverty eradication. As such, we Africans should see reasons to why one of us being at the helm would be a welcome development.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala Nigeria's former finance minister said she is interested in the plight of women and youth, since they are the major engines of trade in Africa. She also wants to reduce the rate at which we import pharmaceuticals on the continents, stating that it could be produced locally.

Ms Mohamed who served as both trade and foreign minister for Kenya said that she could bring a "fresh perspective" to the job and wouldn't want to be judged as "just an African leader or a woman leader, but as an experienced leader and a consensus builder".

Mr Mamdouh who has been representing Egypt at the WTO since 1985 said he could use his vast experience at the trade body to help develop the continent further, as he said that was part of his agenda.

Although, the DG has the power to appeal to Presidents concerning trade issues, he or she cannot force them to act in a particular way.

Contestants for the role of director-general at the WTO are:

1. Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijiri -Saudi Arabia

2. Liam Fox - UK

3. Jesús Seade Kuri - Mexico

4. Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh - Egypt

5. Amina Mohamed - Kenya

6. Yoo Myung-hee - South Korea

7. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - Nigeria

8. Tudor Ulianovschi - Moldova.


The agreement which would see Africa enforce the world's largest free-trade area was postponed coronavius. The DG could help Africa in bringing this dream into reality through him/her offering technical advice and analysis. The DG could also help Africa by steering more support from the WTO to the continent. Since the rules of the AFCFTA and that of the WTO in line, the DG could help make sure it achieves it's full potential. This would ensure more quality products from the continent, increase in foreign exchange earnings, more investors, and most importantly would help in eradicating poverty from the continent.

When the these few points, I believe am African should be made the head of the WTO.

Thanks for your time, please what are your thoughts on this??? Should an African be made the head??, Please do share with me by leaving your comments. Also share this article to others so they could read. Follow me @oluwadamilarereuben for more like this.

Content created and supplied by: Spokenwords (via Opera News )

Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh African Amina Mohamed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Nigeria


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