The president of the World Bank has announced his resignation, to join the private. In office for seven years, he has strongly renovated the institution that finances projects in developing countries.

Three years before the end of his term, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced his next departure on Monday, Jan. 7, effective February 1st. In a statement, he simply indicates that he will join a private company where he will be in charge of"Increase infrastructure investment in developing countries". But he does not specify the reason for this surprise departure.

Pending a successor, the interim will be provided by the director general of the institution, Kristalina Georgieva.

Under American leadership since its inception in 1945

This resignation will give the opportunity to US President Donald Trump to choose his successor. The head of the World Bank is elected for five years by the Board of Directors. But the United States is the largest shareholder of the Bank, which gives them a leading role.

Since its creation in 1945, the World Bank has always been headed by an American, while a European is in charge of the IMF, the other great institution created at the same time. Before Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank was led by Paul Wolfowitz, until 2007, then by Robert Zoellick from 2007 to 2012.

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Jim Yong Kim was chosen at the time of Barack Obama, then re-elected in 2017 for a second term. Since the arrival of Donald Trump, Jim Yong Kim has been in conflict with the US administration several times, especially when he decided that the World Bank would end all investments in coal-fired power plants.

A specialist doctor from poor countries

Jim Yong Kim, 59, is a medical doctor who has spent a good part of his career on public health issues. He is from Korea. His father fled North Korea in 1959 to join the South. This is where Jim Yong Kim was born in 1960. Then the family emigrated to the United States in 1965.

He studied medicine in Iowa, earning two doctorates in medicine and anthropology. He then devoted himself to research on tuberculosis and AIDS, then to humanitarian aid. He co-founded Partners in Health, an association that provides treatment and prevention to poor people in poor countries. Then he joined the World Health Organization, before being appointed head of the World Bank.

Historic decline in world poverty

Difficult reforms

The Bank, headquartered in Washington, has 189 member countries. In 2018, these commitments amounted to $ 67 billion (€ 58 billion). Its role is to finance projects that contribute to development and fight against poverty.

In arriving at the head of the institution, Jim Yong Kim had set himself the goal of overcoming extreme poverty by 2030. Under his leadership, the Bank reorganized significantly. It managed to complete a capital increase and made greater use of the private sector to finance its projects.

But it also led a savings plan of 400 million dollars, accompanied by layoffs, which destabilized the approximately 15,000 employees of this institution. Jim Yong Kim has also been widely criticized for supporting bonus payments to senior bank executives in 2014.

Alain Guillemoles

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