The African Union is a full member of the G20

Africa has been calling for better representation in international institutions for decades

The African Union is a full member of the G20

Africa has been calling for better representation in international institutions for decades. The G20 summit which opens this Saturday, September 9, sees the African Union obtain a permanent seat at the table of this organization which brings together the largest developed and emerging economies on the planet. The AU's 55 member states have pushed to play a meaningful role in international bodies that long represented a now-erased post-World War II order, including in the United Nations Security Council .

This integration should allow the continent to be better represented, but above all to influence the evolution of the global financial system, of which it calls for urgent reforms, in particular from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which still obliges African countries to paying more than others to borrow money, thus adding to their debt.

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, whose country holds the presidency of the G20 this year and is hosting the heads of state and government this weekend, has shown in recent days his desire to expand this group with "the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member”. A senior official from the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vinay Kwatra, said the day before that he expected a decision on Saturday morning at the summit.

Indeed, at the opening of the meeting this Saturday morning, “India proposed granting permanent member status of the G20 to the African Union. I believe we have everyone’s agreement on this,” said Narendra Modi in his opening speech to the summit. “With everyone’s approval, I request the AU chief to take his seat as a permanent member of the G20,” said Narendra Modi in his opening remarks.

However, it is still possible that a member of the G20 vetoes.

The president of the Comoros archipelago, Azali Assoumani, who is currently head of the AU, landed in New Delhi on Friday and is due to take part in the weekend's discussions. The spokesperson for the Comorian government, Houmed Msaidie, claimed from Moroni that he was already able to “confirm the membership of the African Union” while a member of the Comorian delegation in India affirmed for his part that “the G20 sent someone to announce it to us to incorporate it into our speech.”

The European Union, which has a seat in the G20, showed its support for the initiative on Friday. "I look forward to welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20," European Council President Charles Michel told reporters in New Delhi. “Let’s wait and see what the decision will be. But one thing is clear: the EU supports Africa's membership in the G20. »

In December, US President Joe Biden had already expressed the wish that the AU join the G20 as a permanent member, assuring that “it was going to happen”. A position reaffirmed this week by his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, during a briefing on American priorities at the summit. “We believe that the voice of the African Union will strengthen the G20,” he commented.

AU countries have nearly 1.4 billion inhabitants, such as China and India. Their cumulative GDP reaches 2.6 trillion euros (the equivalent of France's GDP), which would place the AU in eighth place among the G20 members.

Only one African country, South Africa, is currently a member of the G20, which brings together 19 of the world's largest economies plus the European Union, representing 85% of global GDP and two-thirds of the world's population.

Headquartered in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, the AU has 55 members (including six suspended), a total population of 1.4 billion, and their combined GDP reaches $3 trillion in GDP. Which would place the AU eighth among G20 members.

Granting the African Union a permanent seat in the G20 would make it possible to “repair an injustice”, Senegalese President Macky Sall argued in July. “Africa combined is in eighth place in the world in terms of gross domestic product,” recalled President Sall, who spoke by videoconference as part of the Economic Meetings in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. The challenge will be for the AU to find the means to exert its influence in its bodies, while it is regularly called upon to manage the multiple crises and upheavals which cross its continent. While waiting to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.