G20 Summit 2023: The G20, group of 20 major economies turns into The G21 as African Union (AU) became its a permanent member on September 9, 2023. The AU is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa.
The decision to include the AU was made by the host of the 2023 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, who wanted to give more voice to Africa in global affairs. In his opening remarks at the inaugural session of the 2023 G20 Leaders’ Summit, Modi welcomed the President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Azali Assoumani, to take seat at the G20 table.
India has called it a “key outcome” of the G20 Summit being held under India’s presidency. The Process of giving full membership of G20 to African Union has started in the month of june when Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to G20 Leaders to propose AU as permanent member of G20 at the upcoming Delhi summit of G20.
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar proceeded to escort the current chair of the AU and President of Comoros Azali Assoumani, to the round table. Modi also got up to embrace Assoumani amidst applause from the leaders, before the latter took his seat. The decision will certainly be touted by India as the biggest achievement of its G20 presidency till now, especially since there is uncertainty over whether a joint communique will be released at the end of the summit due to deeply polarised divisions over the Ukraine war
G20 Summit 2023: Inside story behind the membership of African Union
According to sources, the idea germinated after the ‘Voice of the Global South’ Summit in January this year, in which most of the African Union’s 55 countries had participated. The discussions were carried forward in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, which houses the headquarters of the African Union. So far, only one country from the grouping — South Africa – was part of the G20. Many African leaders had argued that Europe is represented by five countries as well as the European Union (EU), and the African Union merits similar representation as well.
In an interview to Media, President Assoumani of Comoros, the current Chairman of AU had expressed satisfaction over the way the AU’s advocacy for membership of G20 Summit 2023 has found support from various member states. Prime Minister Modi’s remarks also reflected the widespread support that the AU has received from all members of G-20.
Mr. Assoumani had told on September 8 that Africa has the potential to deal with the challenges that are currently troubling the continent and urged that the G-20 member countries should invest to industrialise the continent and promote manufacturing goods using the resources of Africa. He said,”It is the duty of Africa to ensure job security in the continent so that our youth will remain in our continent and find the jobs that they require. But we also have to work hand in hand with Europe and Europe will have to help us train our people.”
AU with 55 countries is one of the biggest Union in comparison to the European Union. In other word, we can say it is like giving the AU a seat at the table where important global decisions are made. The countries in the AU together makes them the 11th biggest economy in the world. This means they have right to take part in important global financial decisions.
Africa is a fast economically growing continent, with six of the world’s fastest-growing countries located here. in G20 Summit 2023, India said that by including the AU in G20, it can help Africa grow even more and make sure everyone gets a fair chance to develop. Also, this move might help to balance China’s influence in Africa. There is a plus point in this decision because there’s a big competition to get valuable minerals needed for future energy sources in Africa, so it’s becoming really important on the world stage.