Okonjo-Iweala is battling a handful of other candidates to replace the Roberto Azevedo who surprisingly announced that he will step down on August 31.
Reuters quotes a delegate as referring to Okonjo-Iweala as "Definitely the favorite", especially after the European Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, gave up the race.
There is a feeling that Okonjo-Iweala is also likely to be accepted by China and the United States – two of the largest economies in the world.
Roberto Azevedo will step down as WTO chief in August (AFP)
Africa has struggled to unite behind a candidate in the past. No African has taken the position of DG WTO since the organization was created in 1995.
The Geneva watchdog was also never led by a woman. There is now a broad feeling in international circles that it is Africa's turn.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has since endorsed Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy. The former World Bank managing director said Reuters that she can also feel support from the rest of the African continent.
"I cannot assume for any group, but I can say that I feel strong support from the region", she said.
She also added that she has had "Very constructive conversations" among the 164 members of the WTO.
From Egypt Hamid Mamdouh, a former WTO official, is also a candidate and was endorsed by the African Union long before Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy was released.
Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh from Egypt is the largest Okonjo-Iweala competition in Africa and is supported by the AU [China Daily]
The new WTO chief will be tasked with overseeing much-needed reforms, leading the commercial world through a post-COVID recession, closing multilateral deals, managing growing protectionism and navigating the trade war between China and the United States.
"The problems are very deep and challenging, but they are not insoluble" Okonjo-Iweala said, emphasizing the need for reform.
Critics say she doesn't have enough experience in direct trade. However, she says, being an outsider is an advantage.
His supporters praise his negotiating skills, including an agreement to cancel billions of dollars in Nigerian debt President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Former Nigeria Finance Minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala praises his record as a reformer and trader (Punch)
"Throughout my long career, I have managed to build relationships and platforms at levels high enough to be able to dialogue with the right people", she said.
President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Okonjo-Iweala for the position on 5 June 2020, withdrawing the candidacy of Nigeria's permanent representative to the WTO, Yonov Frederick Agah.
Governments have until July 8 to nominate their candidates. These candidates will report to 164 WTO members the following week.
These presentations are likely to be held virtually at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WTO generally chooses a new chief by consensus. Voting is often the last resort. This year may be different, however.