Africa, LatAm to challenge US hold on the World Bank

Developing nations are discussing African and South American candidates to compete with whoever the Obama administration nominates for World Bank presidency.

business Updated: Mar 23, 2012 00:31 IST

Developing nations may challenge the US’ historic hold on the presidency of the World Bank and are discussing African and South American candidates to compete with whoever the Obama administration nominates.

More than a month after World Bank President Robert Zoellick announced he would step down when his term ends in June, the administration has yet to name its choice for the job. With the Friday deadline for nomination approaching, World Bank board members from developing countries have been caucusing over possible challengers and intend to make selection competitive, said Rogerio Studart, the Brazilian member of the bank’s 25-member executive board.

Studart said he is conferring with the nine countries he represents, including Colombia, about nominating Jose Antonio Ocampo, a professor at Columbia University who formerly served as Colombian finance minister and central bank governor.

South African executive director Renosi Mokate, who represents Nigeria on the executive board, may nominate Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, according to bank officials familiar with the nominating process. Okonjo-Iweala is a former top-ranking bank executive also receiving support from some Washington-based development experts.

Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo could be reached for comment. Studart, however, said there was a strong sense among developing countries that the selection of Zoellick’s successor should involve a broader discussion about the bank’s future.

“Tell me what you want for the World Bank,” said Studart. “What kind of culture do you want to bring to this institution? What kind of changes to the organisation? People are fixated on names and nationalities. We are fixated on making this an opportunity to make this an institution for the 21st century.”

Reports on Wednesday cited the possibility of a developing world challenger to the White House nominee.

The White House did not comment about the administration’s selection process. Speculation has centered on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, who have declined to be considered.

In Exclusive Partnership with The Washington Post.

First Published: Mar 22, 2012 23:00 IST