Speaking in an interview with BBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Okonjo-Iweala said Africa may not be priority for the Trump presidency, but there is no need to despair.
“There are two schools of thoughts, but one very interesting one, to which I subscribe is that maybe Africa is not top of the agenda for the incoming government, therefore, that could really provide a chance for Africa to craft its own narratives,” she said.
“To make it known that African countries are really much more interested in taking charge of their own destiny and trying to find ways to do it.
“Look, people in developing countries are not just sitting, waiting for people to bring aid, we now have a changing dynamics, particularly with our young people.
“If you look at the millenials, they are asking a different question; they want to know how they can really use what is here to catalyse the change that is needed to make developing countries, who are already contributing quite substantially to global growth to do even more.”
On the second school of thought, she said “there are also those who are a little bit worried, that the continent may not get the attention it needs on the global stage”.
“And say what you may, if you look at 2030, 2050, Africa cannot be left behind, because the implication for the rest of the world are just too enormous. In terms of the demographics, the potential market it presents.”
On climate change, the development economist said “nobody will like to see America walk away from this very important global issue, but at the same time, you look at what other kinds of leadership would also step forward”.
“The private sector could take the lead in this; I am saying that we need not despair, the private sector realises that this is important and here to stay, and they have to do something about it.”
Okonjo-Iweala said there are three major challenges the world is facing today: reigniting global growth, combating climate change and meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The former World Bank vice-president, who put necessary estimates at $90 trillion, said all three challenges can be solved via financing of sustainable infrastructure.