AT the G20 summit hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the African Union (AU) secured its place as the latest member of the G20, receiving resounding support from the existing G20 nations. Prime Minister Modi advocated for the inclusion of the pan-African organization as a permanent member, asserting that developing nations must have a more significant role in shaping global decisions.
This proposal garnered backing from various corners, including Washington and the European Union. European Council President Charles Michel expressed his anticipation, stating, ‘I look forward to welcoming the AU as a permanent member of the G20.’ The two-day G20 summit, commencing on Saturday in New Delhi, provides a platform for this historic development.
Azali Assoumani, the President of Comoros, a small Indian Ocean archipelago, and the current African Union head, arrived in New Delhi amid a grand red-carpet welcome. Assoumani, a former army chief-of-staff who initially seized power in a 1999 coup and later retired in 2006, re-entered politics in 2016, winning an election marred by violence and allegations of irregularities. He secured a disputed victory in the 2019 election.
US President Joe Biden had previously expressed his desire for the AU to join the G20 as a permanent member, emphasising that this step had been long-awaited and was on the horizon.
The African Union, headquartered in Ethiopia, was established in 2002 following the dissolution of the Organisation of African Unity. With a full membership of 55 nations, it collectively boasts a GDP of $3 trillion and a population of approximately 1.4 billion people.
Currently, the G20, comprising 19 countries and the European Union, represents approximately 85 percent of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population. Notably, South Africa is the sole G20 member from the African continent.
Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 ‘sherpa,’ the official responsible for behind-the-scenes negotiations among G20 members, expressed India’s successful efforts in securing unanimous support, although specific details were not disclosed. However, the G20 remains divided on critical issues, including Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and the climate crisis, making it possible for a member to veto the AU’s bid.