South Africa is throwing its support behind Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the African candidate for the World Bank presidency. The country, which chairs one of the three African seats on the 25-member World Bank board, is expected to announce this at a news conference on Friday, sources close to the discussion said on Thursday.
Sources said Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy was proposed after meetings between South African President Jacob Zuma and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
A statement from South Africa’s Treasury said the Finance Ministers of Angola, Nigeria and South Africa would hold a news conference in Pretoria on Friday, although it did not disclose details of the agenda, Reuters reported.
Since the bank’s founding in 1946, its Presidency position has been held by U.S. citizens. Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo are set to make the first concerted challenge to the U.S. grip on the top job at the World Bank.
Brazil said this week that both Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo would be “great” candidates to replace Robert Zoellick as head of the Washington-based development institution, the latest sign of emerging nations wanting more say in how it is run, Reuters reported.
Despite the push by developing nations, it is likely that an American will succeed Zoellick as the United States has the bank’s largest voting share and is expected to win the support of other developed nation.
The United States is yet to put forth a nominee.