The entry of the African Union (AU) into the group of the most powerful economies in the world, the G20, underlines the growing influence of the continent on the global stage and offers an opportunity for African countries to finally influence decisions international.
African leaders have largely applauded this integration, while only South Africa was so far represented at the G20, the summit of which was held in New Delhi on Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10. They hope that the continent's voice will count more in decisions concerning global finance, international trade and even climate change.
This accession comes at a time when the world order is largely reshuffled, where China and Russia are seeing their influence grow, and when the Brics trade group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is expanding to include two new African nations, Egypt and Ethiopia.
This entry into the G20 “will certainly contribute to putting African issues on the international agenda by placing the AU at the heart of discussions,” says Steven Gruzd of the South African Institute of International Affairs. By integrating the AU, the G20 welcomes the continent with the fastest growing population, youngest population and enormous potential to contribute to environmental transitions. “It is important for Africa to be recognized and included. It remains to be seen what she will actually do with this membership,” the researcher explains.
Because according to analysts, if the AU already has structures to reach common positions between its members, it will need to work together to speak with one voice at the G20. The AU, headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has 55 member states, but several are currently suspended following coups that installed military governments.
From the status of “object” to that of “actor”
Pressure for G20 membership had gathered pace this year, with Senegalese President Macky Sall saying an AU seat would right an “injustice” and the president of the European Central Bank ( BCE), Christine Lagarde, having insisted that Africa have more weight within financial institutions.
“Africa’s permanent membership in the G20 means it has been recognized as a key player in the global economic landscape,” Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said after the decision. African countries must now leverage this position to accelerate the development of their economies and their young populations. »
For Solomon Ayele Dersso, director of the Amani African Media and Research Services think tank, the G20 allows Africa to change its status from "object" to "actor" of the decision: "This brings the group a certain legitimacy, which it badly needed given that some of the decisions it adopts have considerable consequences on people who until now have not really had a say. »
Climate change is certainly one of the issues on which African countries will seek to make their voices heard better. Because if the continent is one of the most affected by the consequences of climate change, it has been one of the least consulted in decisions taken at the global level. African leaders gathered in Nairobi this month for a climate summit where they stressed the need to change global financing and support the development of renewable energy on the continent.
According to William Gumede, president of the Democracy Works Foundation, a Johannesburg-based think tank, African nations could also seek to have more of a say in global financial decisions that impact the continent. “Africa will also put on the table the fact that the monetary policy of Western countries must be conducted in such a way as not to harm African countries,” he believes.
The emergence of rivalry between China and the United States, Russia's efforts to expand its influence and the growth of the Brics as a competing economic group have also highlighted the importance of Africa. “The timing underscores the continent’s renewed role as a diplomatic battleground,” according to William Gumede.