Accessibility links

World Bank Nominee Zoellick in Europe After Africa Trip

President Bush's nominee to be the next head of the World Bank is on a three-continent trip aimed at familiarizing himself with some of the Bank's financiers and customers. Robert Zoellick is in Europe after visiting three African countries last week. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

The U.S. choice to be the next head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, concluded the Africa leg of his trip in South Africa. He said that during five days of meetings on the continent African officials and aid workers voiced concerns about job creation, energy, health and education.

"There is a combination here [in Africa] of focus on infrastructure development to create foundations for growth, social investment and attention to overcoming poverty, but doing so in a way that also creates broad based, sustainable economic growth and investment through the private sector," he said.

Zoellick acknowledged complaints by some African leaders that World Bank loans are hampered by too many restrictions. But he said some conditions are necessary to ensure responsible lending. He praised what he called a new generation of African leaders who are taking responsibility for their countries.

Zoellick said he found a strong consensus on the link between economic growth and peace and security. Other common themes were promoting good governance and fighting corruption.

Zoellick noted that the world is increasingly focused on global security, politics and economics, but said trade and cooperation with specific regions and countries remain important.

"You have to sort of think globally but act locally," he said. "And in that sense, the real key is developing these partnerships whether it be with Africa or with China."

Zoellick flew to South Africa after visiting Ghana, where he met with West African officials and aid organizations, and Ethiopia where he met with officials of the African Union.

Zoellick, a former U.S. trade representative who is currently a vice-chairman of a Wall Street investment firm, was nominated to replace Paul Wolfowitz.

Wolfowitz is due to step down on June 30. He resigned as World Bank president after its board of governors determined he had violated Bank rules by approving a large pay raise for an employee with whom he was in a romantic relationship.