A new seat for Sub-Saharan Africa may help developing countries gain the majority of seats within the World Bank's executive board, as a series of reforms were approved by the bank's board of governors Feb. 11 in Washington.
In a statement released after the board's approval, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said that giving more visibility and decision power to developing countries would make aid more effective.
"Expanding the developing world's voice is central to delivering effective aid and promoting shared prosperity and development within a 21st century economic reality," he said.
An additional seat for the African continent was part of a series of reforms agreed upon at the World Bank's annual meeting last October. The reforms will have to be approved by the three-fifth of the World Bank's member countries with at least 85 percent of total votes. If approved, developing countries control 44 percent of the bank's votes.
A second reform phase, which member countries already agreed the bank should undertake, will aim at reaching a more equitable voting balance between developed and developing countries within the World Bank and its affiliated member, the International Finance Corp.
"Adding another seat for Africa, reaching developing country majority on the board, expanding developing country shares and laying the groundwork for further reforms represent real change," Zoellick said. "I'm pleased our reform process is on track."
Zoellick encouraged member countries to take action now on approvals of the voting share changes and to "continue their efforts at further, more ambitious, reforms," toward an increased power for developing countries within the organization.