The G20 summit, which was held in New Delhi from September 7 to 9, 2023, has made a historic decision to admit the African Union (AU) as a permanent member of the group. This is the first time that the G20 has expanded its membership since its inception in 1999.
The move was welcomed by the AU Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who said that it was a recognition of the continent’s economic potential and strategic importance. He also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India for his leadership and initiative in hosting the summit and proposing the idea of including the AU.
The G20 is an international forum that brings together the world’s major economies to discuss global issues and coordinate policies. It comprises 19 countries and the European Union, which collectively account for about 80% of the world’s GDP, 75% of global trade, and 60% of the world’s population. The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The AU is a continental body that consists of 55 member states that cover most of Africa. It was established in 2002 to promote unity, cooperation, and development among African countries. The AU has a vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.
The admission of the AU as a permanent member of the G20 is expected to boost the representation and voice of Africa in global affairs. It will also enhance the cooperation and partnership between the G20 and the AU on various issues such as trade, investment, climate change, health, security, and development. The AU will join the other regional organizations that are invited to participate in the G20 meetings as observers or guests, such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), and OAS (Organization of American States).
The G20 summit in New Delhi also discussed other important topics such as the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the promotion of digital transformation and innovation. The summit issued a joint declaration that outlined the commitments and actions of the G20 members to address these challenges and opportunities.
The next G20 summit will be held in Italy in 2024. The host country will have the responsibility of setting the agenda and inviting other participants. The AU will be able to fully participate in all aspects of the G20 process as a permanent member from then on.