Tit’s the world Large multilateral institutions are always keen to publicize their global prospects. Art from remote corners of the world adorns their headquarters – and if a visitor ever needs to refer to a huge map of the world, one is rarely far away. However, in one area, their global qualifications did not always match: leadership. Most of the heads of multilateral institutions were white men. Sub-Saharan Africans in particular were overlooked. Until 2017, only one person had led a large multilateral organization: Kofi Annan, who ran a, which rotated its senior function by region, from 1997 to 2006.
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Africans today lead many global institutions. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian, who led the World Health Organization (WHO)Who is the) through the epidemic. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria, chairs the World Trade Organization (WTO)In this). Mach Tar Diop, Senegal, chairs an investment portfolio of approximately $64 billion in the International Finance Corporation (IFC)International Finance Corporation), the semi-autonomous arm of the World Bank that invests in private companies. A seamstress gives the highest jobs in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for America and Europe. But only for the second time, Antoinette Sayeh of sub-Saharan Liberia holds the position of Deputy Managing Director of International Monetary Fund.
All of them are highly qualified. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala, Mr. Diop and Ms. Sayeh were all Finance Ministers and all worked for the World Bank. Dr. Tedros was Minister of Health and then of Foreign Affairs. That they all have great jobs at once is partly by chance. But there are indications that governments have deliberately sought Africans to lead large corporations. Keith Rockwell says, In thisOfficial Spokesperson, on the mood before the appointment of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala.
This reflects a realization that the focus of many of these institutions is shifting to sub-Saharan Africa, which has more than two-thirds of the world’s poor and where life expectancy is around 61 years, compared to 80 years in rich countries. Although Africa accounts for a small part of world trade, it is the most benefited from trade. likely to constitute an increasing share of International Monetary FundWork too. Lending to sub-Saharan countries has increased 13 times since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Sayeh says the only thing the new presidents might offer is a “special ear” for issues on the continent. At the very least, their leadership brings more attention to Africa. “I don’t think anyone in In this She decided to ignore Africa’s concerns,” says Ms. Okonjo-Iweala. However, she adds, “Africa has not benefited as much from trade integration … as it should.” In theory, many African countries get lower tariffs than in more countries Get rich through trade deals permitted under In thisRules. But this does not work well in practice. “We really need to look at some of those agreements and make it easier for African countries,” Okonjo-Iweala says. Mr. Diop says International Finance Corporation He did not neglect Africa in the past. However, it plans to double its annual investment in the continent to reach $10 billion in the next few years.
Personal experience is inevitably a priority for leaders. Dr. Tedros lost his brother, who was four years old, probably to measles. He has made similar curable diseases the focus of his campaign to manage Who is theand give them priority during his tenure. When Ebola hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dr. Tedros visited 14 times, despite the threat from the rebels.
Having Africans in charge of institutions full of funk can provide role models and help overcome racial stereotypes. “It is important for people to see an African leading an enterprise in the economic sphere,” says Okonjo-Iweala.
Dr. Tedros was recently nominated unopposed to lead Who is the for a second term. There is no doubt that Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and Mr. Diop are looking forward to similar endorsements for their work. Pioneers sometimes feel extra pressure to succeed, and may be held to unfairly high standards. However, not all global enterprise leaders excel. The real sign that Africans have broken through the glass ceiling in international organizations will be when normal leadership by an African generates no more comment than the tepid possession of an important person from Asia, Europe or the Americas. ■
This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “Africans at the Top”.