AU endorses Nigerian minister for world bank president
African Union finance leaders on Monday unanimously endorsed Nigeria's Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy to lead the World Bank and urged an open merit-based process to select the next head of the global financial institution.
"Dr. Okonjo-Iweala's impeccable credentials, including depth and breadth of knowledge, rich and varied experience, make her eminently qualified and the best candidate for the post of World Bank President," the African Union said in a statement.
Reuters reported that the endorsement came following a meeting in Addis Ababa, of Finance, Planning and Development ministers from across Africa led by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi.
Okonjo-Iweala had earlier in the day warned that emerging economies must be given a fair shot at leading the institutions or they would end up going their own way.
"The balance of power in the world has shifted and emerging market countries are contributing more and more to global growth – more than 50 per cent – and they need to be given a voice in running things," she told Reuters in an interview, adding, "If you don't, they will lose interest."
Okonjo-Iweala, 57, was nominated on Friday by Nigeria, South Africa and Angola to lead the poverty-fighting institution when its current president, Robert Zoellick, steps down in June.
Also nominated for the post are Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert, whose name was put forward by United States President Barack Obama on Friday, and former Colombian Finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil.
It is the first time the post has ever been so hotly contested.
Under an informal agreement between the US and its allies in Europe, Washington has laid claim to the top post at the World Bank since its founding after World War II, while a European has always led the International Monetary Fund, its sister Bretton Woods institution.
Okonjo-Iweala said fast-growing emerging economies were becoming too powerful and influential in the world economy to continue denying them the leadership posts at global financial bodies.
Leaders of the so-called BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will meet at a summit in India next week to discuss the world economy and closer coordination.