As the crescendo of global calls for the African Union’s (AU) full-fledged membership in the G20 swells, India has positioned itself firmly in support. Buoyed by backing from major global players – the US, France, and China – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a bold overture, penning a letter to fellow G20 members. The proposal? To formally welcome the African Union as a full member at the forthcoming September summit in India’s capital, New Delhi.
As of now, the G20’s African representation is restricted to just one nation, South Africa. In contrast, five countries hail from Europe, not to mention the European Union. The AU chairperson has been a guest at summit assemblies since 2010, yet the chorus for a permanent seat for the African Union at the table has grown louder with time.
Sengalese President Macky Sall, the AU’s present chair, ignited this conversation last July. He poignantly highlighted the risk that the lack of adequate African representation poses to the G20’s credibility and effectiveness. With issues as pressing as climate change, pandemics, security, and debt on the global agenda, Africa is not merely affected – it has valuable solutions to offer. Sall argued that not having the AU on the G20 weakens the group’s credibility and representativeness.
The call for AU representation has been echoed by several key figures. Last year, in the lead-up to the Bali summit, Indonesia, the chair of the G20, publicly advocated for the AU. Even French President Emmanuel Macron openly voiced his support for the African Union’s full integration into the G20 during the summit. Not forgetting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who made AU membership a priority topic during the Bali summit.
China, too, has been a longstanding supporter of the AU’s ascension to G20 membership, frequently reiterating its endorsement since August 2022. Despite this show of support, the final Bali declaration document, spanning 17 pages, did not mention the AU membership proposal, a missed opportunity indeed.
Nevertheless, a significant development arose in the aftermath of the Bali summit. At the US-Africa summit held in December 2022, President Joe Biden championed the cause of the AU’s G20 membership. Japan followed suit, pledging support a week later.
This Indian initiative to rally for the AU’s full membership is a substantial move, aimed at amplifying Africa’s voice on the global stage. This aligns with India’s agenda as G20 chair, a platform it has used to advocate for the Global South. It’s clear that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is championing this cause with conviction and determination.
If successful, this move could redefine the G20, bringing a more diverse range of perspectives to the table. It would elevate the Global South’s standing and pave the way for a more representative and fair dialogue at future summits. It’s time to bridge the gap in representation and welcome the African Union as a full member of the G20.