Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and former Colombian Finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, are set to be nominated to lead the World Bank. Reuters, which reported the impending nomination of the duo, credited the information to sources with knowledge of emerging market’s efforts to find candidates to replace the current President of the World Bank, Mr. Robert Zoellick.
The decision to nominate Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo followed weeks of discussions among emerging and developing countries at the World Bank board including China and India. Two sources said South Africa’s director at the World Bank board, Renosi Mokate, who also represents Nigeria and other English-speaking African countries, personally flew to Abuja to consult with Okonjo-Iweala about her nomination.
“The impressive credentials of both Ocampo and Okonjo-Iweala puts tremendous pressure on the White House to come up with a candidate of at least equivalent standing,” said Domenico Lombardi, a former World Bank board official now at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“This signals a big shift and really reflects a game change,” Lombardi added. “This is the first time in history we have a truly contested election.”
Okonjo-Iweala, who left the World Bank as managing director last year to become Nigeria’s finance minister, and Ocampo, a former U.N. under-secretary for economic and social affairs, will join American economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has the backing of a handful of small countries, on the nomination list.
Sources with knowledge of the administration’s thinking say Washington has focused on convincing a woman to enter the race, which could go some way to address calls by emerging market nations for change. A woman has never led the bank.