Last updated: October 5, 2007 12:58 am

Zoellick revamps top management

Robert Zoellick on Thursday revamped the top management structure of the World Bank, bringing in Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance and foreign minister, as one of his top deputies and shaking up the portfolios of his other two managing directors.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, who worked at the bank for 21 years as a development economist, will become managing director for Africa, South Asia and Europe and central Asia. These regions include most of the borrowers from IDA, the bank’s concessional loan facility. She will also be in charge of human resources - a sensitive area following disputes over appointments made by former president Paul Wolfowitz - with a brief to encourage diversity.

Meanwhile, Juan Jose Daboub will be put in charge of the Middle East, Latin America and East Asia, regions that are mostly made up of middle income countries. Graeme Wheeler, the other managing director, will be responsible for the bank’s development networks and work on global public goods such as climate change.

The appointment of Ms Okonjo-Iweala is likely to be popular with the bank’s staff and non-governmental organisations, some of whom tried to promote her as a possible successor to Mr Wolfowitz.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala told the FT she would seek to promote “human infrastructure and physical infrastructure” in the regions she will oversee. She said many countries, including in Africa, had achieved macroeconomic stability, but needed support translating this into poverty-reducing growth.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala said that in many nations, including in South Asia, poor physical infrastructure was “becoming a binding constraint on growth.” The bank has to find more imaginative ways to help, she added.

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