Even for an economist, there are lots of very large numbers in the life of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. As the chair of Gavi, the vaccine alliance, she has overseen the annual immunisation of millions of children.When managing director of the World Bank, she oversaw $81bn (£58bn) worth of operations. In her stints in charge of Nigeria’s finances, she tackled Africa’s most populous country’s $30bn debt. And she has 1.5 million followers on Twitter.
There are lots of smaller numbers too: the 20 non-profit organisations that have appointed Okonjo-Iweala to their advisory boards, the major banks and corporations she has advised, the 10 honorary degrees in addition to her own doctorate, 20 or so awards, dozens of major reports authored, and the books.
Then there are the multiple lists frequently featuring Okonjo-Iweala, 66: the world’s 100 most powerful women, 100 most influential people in the world, 10 most influential women in Africa, Top 100 or 150 women in the world, and many others.
On Monday, Okonjo-Iweala was added to a new list: that of the director generals of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a position that has never before been occupied by an African person nor by a woman. She will take over the institution, with its budget of $220m and staff of 650, at a critical time.