5 Black Luminaries With Strategic Offices On International Scene

by Duke Magazine

Africans are not relenting in the quest to be outstanding in all walks of human endeavor. Being Black can racially make someone become a global second citizen, deprived of certain successful feats, but with a remarkable diligence etched with resilience can culminate to achieving stellar breakthrough.

Africans across the globe have a peculiar feature of thriving well at the face of unfamiliar climate, unfavorable economic policy, and bias human development. However, we are not deterred with the scope of being a second fiddle, as there are lustrous individuals raising the true flag of Black excellence in some strategic positions of global leadership.

In sequel, Duke International Magazine showcases notable African brains imprinting an indelible mark on global development.

Akinwumi Adesina 

Black Excellence

Akinwumi Adesina is a globally renowned development economist and agricultural development expert, with more than 30 years of international experience. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics (First Class Honors) from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, in 1981. He was the first student to achieve the feat in Agricultural Economics in the history of the university.

In 2013, Adesina won the Forbes Africa Person of the Year award for his bold reforms in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. He is the first public sector Minister in Africa to win the award. 

In 2019, the 61-year-old development economist led the African Development Bank to achieve the highest capital increase since the Bank’s establishment in 1964, when shareholders raised the general capital of the Bank by 125%. This increased the Bank’s capital by $115 billion, from $93 billion to $208 billion, a historic achievement for Africa.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Black Excellence

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and international development expert with over three decades of experience. She is the Co-Chair of The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. She also sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. She was Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (2016 –2020) and of the African Risk Capacity, ARC (2014 –2020). Okonjo-Iweala was recently appointed as AU COVID-19 Special Envoy (Finance) and WHO COVID-19 Special Envoy (ACT-Accelerator). 

She spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist working on economic development programs and policy reforms including trade policy in middle and low-income countries. The 66-year-old finance expert rose to the second position of Managing Director at the World Bank, overseeing an $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Okonjo-Iweala was named Forbes African of the Year (2020)

She holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from Harvard University and a doctorate in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is an Angelopoulos Global Public Leader at Harvard University Kennedy School, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received sixteen honorary degrees.

Tedros Ghebreyesus 

Black Excellence

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is an Ethiopian biologist and public health official who was the first African to serve as director general (2017 till date) of the World Health Organization (WHO). During his tenure with WHO, he worked to accelerate progress against diseases that affected millions of people each year, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. He was known in particular for his responses to the 2018–20 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)  in which he led efforts to establish transparency and international cooperation to control the spread of disease.

Tedros sought to improve the organization’s transparency and responsiveness and to bolster its resources. With global health challenges increasing in complexity, many experts agreed that WHO needed to overcome its tendency for slow bureaucratic-driven responses to health crises. In his first years at WHO, Tedros demonstrated an ability to persuade authoritarian governments to share information on outbreaks, helping advance international public heath relations. 

Tedros is globally recognized as a health scholar, researcher, and diplomat with first-hand experience in research, operations, and leadership in emergency responses to epidemics.

Throughout his career Tedros has published numerous articles in prominent scientific journals, and received awards and recognition from across the globe.

Amina J. Mohammed 

Black Excellence

Amina J. Mohammed is the current Deputy Secretary-General to the United Nations. Previous to her mandate, she was the Nigerian Minister of Environment under President Buhari and was charged with steering the country’s efforts to protect the natural environment and conserve resources for sustainable development. Prior to this role, she was the Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning, a post she was appointed to in 2012. She was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Mohammed brings to the position more than 30 years of experience as a development practitioner in the public and private sectors, as well as civil society.

She is also Adjunct Professor of the Master’s Program for Development Practice at Columbia University, New York.

The 59-year-old diplomat currently serves on numerous international advisory panels and boards, including the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Secretary General’s Global Sustainability Panel, the Hewlett Foundation on Education, African Women’s Millennium Initiative, the ActionAid International “Right to Education Project”, the Millennium Promise Initiative, and the Institute of Scientific & Technical Information of China. She is a Governor of the International Development Research Centre in Canada, and currently chairs the Advisory Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Global Monitoring Report on Education. 

Chile Eboe-Osuji

Black Excellence

Chile Eboe-Osuji is a Nigerian judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague. Formerly the legal advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he currently sits as the president of the International Criminal Court.

He holds a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, master of laws degree from from McGill University, Canada, and doctorate in law from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 

The 58-year-old legal professional is also a member of the International Gender Champions (IGC).

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