The race for the World Trade Organisation’s Director-General’s seat is once again testing the unity of African countries in fronting common candidates for international agencies.

Ahead of a scheduled appearance by the candidates before the WTO’s General Council – the decision-making body composed of envoys from the 164 member states – to pitch their suitability, the debate has been whether it is Africa’s time to lead the global referee of international trade.


By close of nominations last week, the race had attracted eight candidates, including three from Africa.

They include Kenya’s former Foreign Minister and current Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, ex-Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who currently serves on the boards of a number of global organisations, and Egyptian commercial law academic Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh.

Others are former UK Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, Mr Jesús Seade Kuri of Mexico, Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi, Saudi Arabia’s former Economy Minister Mohammad Mazia al-Tualjri and Ms Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s Trade minister.

The eight are seeking to replace Brazilian Roberto de Azevedo, who has served since 2013.


Traditionally, the candidates would have started campaigns in December, but Covid-19 reduced the nomination time to a month.

Today (Thursday), all eight will begin their submissions by first individually addressing the media.