Don’t penalise Africa for fielding three heavyweights – Amina Mohamed

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Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s sports minister and candidate for the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), says Africa should not be penalised for presenting three candidates for the job — but be commended for backing three heavyweights. 

Speaking with members and journalists at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Mohamed said Africa takes the WTO seriously, and that it is a matter of strength to have three candidates.

“Africa takes the WTO very seriously and that’s the reason why the calibre of the candidates that have come forward is so distinct and so high, and I don’t think that Africa should be penalised for putting forward a number of candidates,” she said.

“There are 54 candidates on the continent after all and you know we have different parts of the continent, so basically, I think that one should not be penalised for putting candidates up to take a position that Africans attach a lot of importance to and that they feel they need to take seriously.

“I think that it is not a matter of weakness to have three candidates, I think it is actually a matter of strength. It shows how interested we are, how seriously we take the WTO.”

The Kenyan minister said all three candidates put forward by Africa — Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, and herself — are all very accomplished.

She asked the 164-member countries to take Africa seriously, and give a chance to the continent.

“The three of us are all very accomplished in our own rights, it was not a decision to just any candidate forward. I think we put forward heavyweights, that is a good thing, Africa should be commended for doing that,” she added.

“I do hope that of the three African candidates, that the membership will give serious consideration to having a leader from Africa. Africa has a big contribution to make. It is a continent that is young and inspirational.”

There are only eight candidates for the WTO top job for 2020 — and a majority, three of eight, are Africans. You can read their profiles here.

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