Africa as G20 member, implications
After waiting for a long time, Africa, a continent that stands between the eastern and western hemispheres, has become a full member of the Group of 20 (G20) at its 18th summit in India.
President Narendra Modi of India and chairman of the summit, had invited the Chairman of the African Union, President Azali Assoumani of Comoros Island, to take his seat at the summit’s opening session.
“With everyone’s approval, I request the African Union head to take his seat as a permanent member,” President Modi said in his opening address.
President Assoumani, thereafter, took his seat on behalf of the AU and the 55 member- states of the continent.
What does that imply?
It means that the G20 now has 19 member-states in addition to two big blocs.
The European Union, a bloc of European countries, is the 20th and the first bloc-member of the G20.
On September 9, 2023, at the 18th summit of the G20, the AU, a bloc of 55 African countries, became the second bloc-member of the G20.
Admission of the AU into the G20 means a lot to the continent.
By it, the AU, as a bloc with 55 African countries, has been elevated in status -- that is equal to that of the EU.
Africa has been upgraded from a status of ‘’invited international organisation’’ to a level of a ‘’full member’’ -- not because of its numerical strength or huge population but because of the continent’s joint economic clout and big political influence on global economic and political affairs over the years.
President William Ruto of Kenya reacted to AU’s entry into the G20 by stating that the G20 membership of the AU would “give African interests and perspectives voice and visibility in this important body”.
“With Africa poised to grow in the coming years, a seat will allow it to shape the decisions of G20 to ensure the continent’s interests are advanced.
“The outcome of the just concluded African Climate Summit, including fundamental reforms of international institutions and multilateral development banks, is one thing that the AU will advance,” President Ruto added.
Mr Mousa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the African Commission, said the AU membership of G20 would give Africa a “propitious framework to enable the continent to put in its effective contributions in aiding the world to meet global challenges.
“I welcome the African Union entry into the G20 as a full member.
“This membership for which we have been advocating will provide a propitious framework for amplifying advocacy in favour of the continent and its effective contribution to meeting global challenges,” Mr Mahamat wrote on Twitter which is now known as X.
AU is the predecessor of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) founded on May 25, 1963, by 32 individual African countries.
The year, 1963, was the height of the decolonization of the African continent.
By 1963, all the 32 countries that had come out of colonization decided to come together to start the initial process that would lead to the formation of a continental African Union with a central or federal government.
However, the continental political union idea did not find immediate fulfilment as individual African countries hesitated on the issue of losing their economic and political sovereignty to an uncertain central or federal continental government.
Instead, the OAU leadership opted for the pursuit of economic and financial liberation of the continent first.
Subsequently, the east, west, central, northern and southern African sub-regions of the continent formed economic communities aimed at advancing regional economic unity and cooperation in aid of development.
In 2001, the AU was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and was launched in 2002 in Durban, South Africa.
The AU, with 55 member-states, replaced the OAU and inherited its assets and liabilities.
It is a confederation of African states that meets annually at foreign ministers’ and head of states’ levels to find answers to their pressing political and economic problems.
Africa has an area of 30 million square kilometres or 12 million square miles.
Its total population is 1.3 trillion, with a per capita GDP (PPP) of $5,733 and GDP per capita of $1,958 in 2020.
G20 was founded in 1999 as a forum for the richest and emerging economies of the world to meet and find solutions to global economic problems.
It was an answer to the Asian economic crisis of the period.
The Group “brings together systemically important industrialised and developing economies’’ to deliberate on pressing global economic problems.
Meetings of the G20 started, originally, at the level of financial ministers and central bank governors.
In 2008, the Group opened its doors to heads of state of member-countries to also meet at that level to deliberate on global economic issues.
Altogether, the G20 membership covers a landmass of 60 percent of the world’s total.
It comprises two-thirds of the world’s population and its GDP is 80 percent of that of the whole world.
According to a declaration at the end of the September 9-10, 2023 summit, the leaders jointly took certain decisions.
On the Ukraine war, the summit asked all states to “act in a manner consistent with purposes or principles of the United Nations Charter in its entirety”.
All states “must refrain from threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against territorial integrity and sovereignty of political independence of any state”.
‘’Use of, or threat of use of nuclear weapons, is inadmissible.’’
On the Ukraine war, the declaration stated that “there were different views and assessments of the situation” but a consensus was reached.
On grain/food security, the summit called on Russia and Ukraine to ensure immediate and unimpeded delivery of grains, foodstuffs and fertiliser/inputs from Russia and Ukraine.
The declaration emphasised the importance of sustaining food and energy security and called for cessation of military destruction or other attacks on relevant infrastructure.
On economic and financial issues, the summit said it “will protect the vulnerable through promoting equitable growth and enhancing micro-economic and financial stability”.
On climate change, the summit undertook ‘’to work towards facilitating low-cost financing for developing countries to support their transition to low carbon emissions”.
The summit added that it “will pursue and encourage efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally through existing targets and policies in line with national circumstances by 2030.”
According to the declaration, the summit leaders “reiterates our commitment to take action to scale up sustainable finance.”
The summit said that it ‘’recognised need for increased global investment to meet our climate goals of the Paris Agreement, and noted that there was the ‘’need of $5.8 to $5.9 trillion in pre-2030 period requested for developing countries, in particular, for their needs to implement their emission targets”.