The FT published an editorial on Tuesday arguing that Nigeria’s minister of the economy and finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, should get the World Bank presidency job. While recognising that the US candidate Jim Yong Kim “could be a good choice” because of his background in health and his managerial experience at the World Health Organisation, the FT states that “the Bank needs more than this”:
“Its new leader should have a command of macroeconomics, the respect of leaders of both the funding and the funded countries, and the management skills to implement his or her vision. These requirements make Ms Okonjo-Iweala the best person for the role.”
The editorial also praises her “real-world experience of policy-making in one of the most challenging developing countries”, and her “unique knowledge” of the World Bank gained from serving as a managing director under Robert Zoellick, although it admits that “one risk could be the temptation not to challenge the status quo”.
“Having an African woman at the helm of the world’s leading development institution would send a strong signal both to developing and developed countries. … In this less than ideal world, Mr Kim’s appointment seems inevitable. But if the Bank’s shareholders wanted the best president, they would opt for Ms Okonjo-Iweala.”
But what about the candidate nominated by Brazil, José Antonio Ocampo, who is barely mentioned by the FT? Judging by the preliminary results of the poll currently running on this blog, he should not be overlooked. Many people could argue that the Colombian former finance minister is at least as well qualified as Okonjo-Iweala, and some may even say that both are more appropriate candidates for the World Bank presidency than Kim. Jeff Sachs, who jumped the gun in announcing his candidacy to the post only to drop out last week in favour of Kim’s nomination by the US, does not think so:
“Kim is one of the world’s great leaders in public health. He has worked with another great public-health leader, Paul Farmer, to pioneer the extension of treatment for AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases to the world’s poorest people. More recently, he has been President of Dartmouth College, a leading American university. He therefore combines professional expertise, global experience, and considerable management know-how – all perfect credentials for the World Bank presidency.”