The World Bank has regained its
identity and core purpose improving living
standards and fighting poverty by mobilising new ideas,
instruments and partners new managing director Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala insisted yesterday. The former Nigerian finance
minister has been enticed back to the bank, and shed posts she
has taken on in private life, by new bank chief Robert
Zoellick has mapped out an
agenda and has shown the Bank Group will be different from the
past, with a new approach for example, emphasising
global public goods such as climate change,
she said in an interview with Emerging Markets.
Okonjo-Iweala returns to the
institution in which she worked until entering government in
2003 after one of the most exciting years of my
life during which she joined ambitious
Moscow-based investment bank Renaissance Capital as advisory
board chair, did opinion-forming at the Brookings Institute,
and worked with a range of civil society groups and with her
friend Bono, the Irish rock star and poverty campaigner.
Okonjo-Iweala strongly backed Zoellicks moves to get
greater private sector participation in projects and in
the ongoing 15th International Development Association
replenishment, for which some $30 billion in sought.
There would be a greater focus
on the sort of services the International Finance Corporation
provides and also on providing risk mitigation so private
investors poured more money into Africa.
There is a lot of
liquidity out there, but not enough of it is coming into
Africa, Okonjo-Iweala said. But private equity and hedge
fund interest which has extended to investments in
countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea
shows there is appetite which could be
exploited, with the company making a profit but also
doing some good in the long run.
The Bank may thus revisit
instruments such as guarantees. Traditional infrastructure
lending will remain relevant, but Im thinking we
can do more private investment even in the more riskily
Okonjo-Iweala said the prospect
of promoting such themes made her very enthusiastic about
this job, as the MD responsible for the World Banks
Africa, South Asia, and Europe and Central Asia regions, and
with oversight responsibility for human resources.
With her appointment effective
December 1, Okonjo-Iweala told Emerging Markets she
had told Renaissance of her resignation and would be leaving
all other posts unless it is possible to stay on helping
some educational groups.
She waxed lyrical on the buzz
Zoellick had created around the Bank, restoring staff
confidence and creating a strategic framework where he
has set out goals and really knows where he wants the Bank to
go. Zoellick has made the staff think they matter
and you cant make change happen without showing
these highly trained people that they are valued.
Okonjo-Iweala now joins fellow
MDs Juan Jose Daboub and Graeme Wheeler, executive vice
presidents Lars Thunell at IFC and Yukiko Omura at MIGA, and
chief financial officer Vincenzo La Via, at the top level of
World Bank Group management.