The African Union on Monday threw its weight behind Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her bid for the presidency of the World Bank.
As the race for the Bank’s presidency gathers momentum, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, earlier in the day called on African countries to stand behind the only candidate from the continent.
The World Bank has historically been led by an American as is the custom for the International Monetary Fund to be headed by an European.
The AU said in a statement in Addis Ababa on Monday that the Bank needed to undergo profound changes to meet Africa’s demands and interests.
“The World Bank needs to have at its helm someone with deep knowledge, broad experience and expertise in a wide range of development issues. It also needs someone who has proven capable, over the years, of working effectively both at the local, national and international levels, and in connecting the different parts to foster synergy and complementarity,” the statement read.
The AU said it was happy that Africa had such a candidate for the topmost job at one of world’s key financial institutions.
It said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who had more than 20 years experience in the Bank had “undisputed credentials in terms of her technical and managerial expertise, as well as a strong track record as a development professional”.
She is one of three candidates contesting for the position. The others are Colombian national José Antonio Ocampo and the Korean-American Jim Yong Kim.
If elected she would become the first African to lead the World Bank