By Seleman Yusuph Kitenge
On September 9th, the African Union marked its founding anniversary, but this year’s celebration came bearing an unexpected and delightful surprise for most Africans: a permanent seat at the G20, courtesy of its continental representation.
For years, the African Union, representing 55 countries, tirelessly championed its bid for a permanent seat at the G20, the paramount forum for global economic cooperation. However, rather than merely receiving an observer’s invitation, where African voices often struggled to resonate within the original G20 members’ decision-making circles on global affairs, this recent development signifies a monumental shift. Africa has transcended the status of being on the menu. In truth, by embracing Africa’s presence, the G20 hasn’t just extended an invitation to the continent; it has graciously bestowed upon it a well-deserved seat among those indulging in the banquet of global influence and opportunities.
Aspiration 7 of Agenda 2063, a visionary continental development framework, envisions “Africa as a strong, united, resilient, and influential global player and partner.” Securing a permanent seat at the G20 represents a significant stride toward actualizing this aspiration. It not only bolsters Africa’s positioning as a formidable global presence but also amplifies its influence in key priority domains. These encompass vital areas such as development assistance, the growth of African capital markets, and the fortification of fiscal systems and public sector revenues, all pivotal to attracting increased investment flows to the continent. As a result, this may also help the continent to meet its Aspiration 1 which focuses on attaining “A prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.”
Furthermore, as Africa continues its journey of recovery from the socio-economic challenges inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that witnessed global powerhouses stockpiling vaccines and vital resources, another significant test has emerged with the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This conflict has added another layer of complexity for the continent, home to over 1.3 billion people. Its consequences are keenly felt through the surge in food and energy prices and the constriction of global economic cooperation financing, both of which are critical for Africa’s prosperity.
In this context, the African Union’s inclusion in the G20 offers a ray of hope. It promises to enhance Africa’s participation and elevate its standing in addressing these pressing challenges, as well as any unforeseen global crises that may arise in the future.
Moreover, while G20 membership represents a significant achievement for Africa’s diplomatic agenda, it should not deter the African Union and its member states from continuing their advocacy efforts to bolster Africa’s presence at the world’s decision-making tables. In fact, an even more momentous triumph would be securing a full and permanent representation for the continent at the United Nations Security Council. This crucial body is responsible for upholding international peace and security.
By obtaining a seat at the Security Council, Africa would not only wield veto power over matters that directly affect its interests but also hold sway in shaping global affairs that impact its socio-economic development agenda. Such a milestone would be a game-changer on the international stage, positioning Africa as a formidable force in the pursuit of peace and prosperity worldwide. In this context, Africa’s G20 membership yes, but the UN Security Council seat should be next.
Seleman Yusuph Kitenge serves as the Communications and Advocacy Officer at the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD).