The UK Foreign Office has appointed its first black female career diplomat as a high commissioner, and she is Nigeria’s Chigozirije NneNne Iwuji-Eme.
Iwuji-Eme’s appointment is part of efforts by the Foreign Office “to change the overwhelmingly white, male face of the diplomatic service”, The Guardian of UK reports.
After spending 16 years in the Foreign Office, NneNne will resume as British high commissioner to Mozambique in July, taking over from Joanna Kuenssberg.
NneNne Iwuji-Eme says it is an honour and a privilege to be appointed High Commissioner to Mozambique, and that she hopes to inspire others through her new office to pursue their ambitions.
“I hope my appointment as the first British black female career diplomat to this position will inspire young talent, regardless of race or background, to pursue their ambitions in the Foreign Office.
“I look forward to forging even stronger connections between Britain and Mozambique – two close members of the Commonwealth family,” she said.
The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said Mrs Iwuji-Eme has “vision, experience and energy” for the appointment.
He said: “As the country heads in a new and exciting direction, it’s important that we have the brightest and the best batting for Britain. Our great diversity is an invaluable asset on the global stage, and it’s only right that all levels [of] the FCO reflect this.
“As a continent with some of the world’s fastest growing economies, Africa is an important partner post-Brexit. NneNne has the vision, experience and energy to take our relationship with Mozambique to the next level, and I congratulate her on her appointment.”
Women now head up 32 per cent of missions while 13.4 per cent of Foreign Office staff are from ethnic minorities.
The Foreign Office said it was making “huge strides” in improving diversity, and work had been done to improve career prospects including tailored training and mentoring programmes.
Mrs Iwuji-Eme had earlier worked as an economist in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for the Royal Dutch Shell.
Since joining the Foreign Office, she has held a range of positions from Economic Adviser for Africa to Chief Press Officer to the Africa Minister.
Her most recent posting was to Sao Paulo, Brazil as Deputy Prosperity Consul /Head of Prosperity. She was First Secretary (Political) from 2013 to 2014 and FCO, Chief Press Officer covering Africa Minister, South Asia, North America, United Nations in 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012 she was FCO Head of Section, Strategy and Resources, Global Economy Group and FCO Head, Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate in 2009 to 2011.
In 2008, she was FCO Policy Analyst, Directorate for Strategy, Policy Planning, and Innovation, while she worked as Scenarios Planner/Senior Africa specialist, Royal Dutch Shell (The Netherlands) from 2006 to 2008.
In 2002–2006 FCO Head, Africa, Middle East and Transition Economies, Economic Policy Department and 1999 – 2001 Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Economic Adviser.
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