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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.
The world, as they say, is moving “beyond aid.” As true as that may be in aggregate, however, the trend doesn’t apply evenly across groups of countries. While fairly significant data gaps prevent a complete and unbiased picture, the available data show that ODA remains a comparatively prominent source of external financing for fragile states.