fofack1_FABRICE COFFRINIAFP via Getty Images_ wto director general Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Making the WTO Work for Africa

Three Africans are among the eight candidates to become the World Trade Organization's next director-general. But regardless of who eventually prevails, Africa must demand a level playing field from the WTO.

LAGOS – The contest to succeed Roberto Azevêdo as director-general of the World Trade Organization has entered a crucial new phase, with the first round of voting by WTO members set to end on September 16. Three of the eight contenders are African: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister; Amina Mohamed, a Kenyan former chair of the WTO General Council; and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, a former Egyptian trade negotiator and WTO official.

Africans are hoping that one of these three highly competent candidates will emerge victorious when the winner is announced in November. But regardless of who eventually prevails – three of the eight candidates will be eliminated after the first round – Africa must demand a level playing field from the WTO.

Trade is vital for Africa’s development and to generate enough good jobs to absorb the 17 million young people who enter the labor market every year. But, for too long, global trade regulations have left the continent holding the short end of the stick.

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