On Wednesday, it was announced that Ajay Banga, an Indian-born, naturalized US-born businessman, was elected to head the World Bank, replacing David Malpass. Banga, who was the only candidate for the position, faces several challenges, including climate change financing and World Bank reform. Her election did not meet the expectations of the World Bank, which had encouraged its members to promote female candidates. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was in favor of such a choice, but the final decision fell to US President Joe Biden. However, Banga’s nomination reflects the White House’s willingness to make a gesture toward certain emerging countries by nominating a person born, raised, and educated in India.
Banga, who is 63, began his career in the 1980s in subsidiaries of large agri-food groups such as Nestlé and PepsiCo before switching to finance in the late 1990s. He joined the US bank Citigroup and was responsible, between 2005 and 2009, for the development of the group’s microfinance strategy. In 2009, he joined Mastercard as chief operating officer before becoming chief executive officer a year later and then chairman of the board in 2021. Banga has a vision of things focused on finding growth through financial inclusion, especially in emerging countries, through microcredit.
Banga will have to face two essential challenges: the reform of the World Bank, which the United States wants to push through with the support of several countries, and the financing of the fight against climate change, especially for poor and emerging countries. It will also have to manage the demands of emerging countries, in particular China, India, Russia, and Brazil, which for several years now have wanted to see their role within international institutions grow. Banga has already begun to address these challenges by traveling to Africa and meeting with 37 governments in eight countries. According to David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, Banga is the right person to address these challenges because of his maturity and experience in being direct and diplomatic.
Leave a Reply