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Surprise! The man who will become the next president of the World Bank is an American – to the increasing irritation of developing nations, it is always an American – but at least this time it is not a superannuated banker or politician. And at least he can rap.
The appointment of Jim Yong Kim, a South Korean-born, American-raised doctor-turned-academic, was formally announced on Monday, though in truth the deal was sealed the moment US President Barack Obama nominated him to the post last month. Still, not everyone involved in the process was happy.
Kim is currently president of Dartmouth College, the first Asian-American head of an Ivy League university, and will be the first president to come from the non-profit sector to run the bank. Kim, 52, established his professional reputation by founding a charity that pioneered intensive community health-care projects in countries such as Haiti, and has advised the World Health Organisation on HIV and Aids.
His parents left Seoul when he was five and he grew up in Iowa, where he showed a precocious academic talent. He has two Ivy League universities on his CV and returned to academia three years ago to run Dartmouth – which is where the rapping comes in.
At the annual Dartmouth Idol competition, a grinning Kim was surely the first World Bank president to become a YouTube sensation performing the Black Eyed Peas song The Time, dressed in a glow-in-the-dark suit with space-age sunglasses and completing an accomplished “robot dance”. He then danced to Thriller.
At Dartmouth, he helped restore some balance to the university’s finances, though he was criticised for failing to stamp out “hazing” that can lead to bullying.
Since the US contributes the most money to the World Bank and since European countries always vote for the US choice as part of a deal that gives them dibs on the IMF presidency, the outcome was not in doubt.
Some new economic powerhouses voted for an alternative candidate. Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister José Antonio Ocampo contested the election.
Okonjo-Iweala claimed she had broken important barriers and that she had “shown we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture”, but that emerging markets needed to seize more control. – The Independent