G20 Expansion: The African Union, consisting of 55 diverse member countries, is set to join the ranks of the world’s 20 largest economies later this week.
Written by Huma Siddiqui
In a significant shift on the global stage, the G20 Summit is poised to make history by transforming into the G21 with the inclusion of the African Union (AU). This move, proposed by India, reflects a growing recognition of the importance of representing the global south.
The African Union, consisting of 55 diverse member countries, is set to join the ranks of the world’s 20 largest economies later this week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India championed this development, emphasizing that the success of any plan for our planet’s future hinges on the inclusion and acknowledgment of all voices.
However, while this transformation is cause for celebration, there are some within the AU who question the tangible impact of joining the G20. One of the top diplomats of the African continent points out that Africa is vast, with a multitude of challenges, economies, and communities. In this context, the diplomat expressed doubts that G20 inclusion would directly address the specific concerns of the Union.
It is a lack of political cohesion. Member countries face unique challenges, some internal and others stemming from regional disputes. Based on the information available in the public domain, for instance, Sudan grapples with a military conflict displacing millions, Rwanda faces political constraints with opposition members in prison, and Morocco and Algeria are locked in a territorial dispute over Western Sahara.
The AU also comprises eight regional economic committees (RECs), each with its own structure and role. These factors make it essential to consider the intricacies of the AU’s internal dynamics.
Senegal, currently holding the AU presidency, played a pivotal role in expressing the desire to join the G20. The formal decision to pursue G20 membership was adopted during the AU Summit in February 2023, with support from Macky Sall, the President of Senegal and then AU chairperson. He is expected to arrive in New Delhi to participate in the G20 Summit.
Some also question the inclusion of two AU member countries, Somaliland and the Sahraoui Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), as these two are not recognized by the United Nations. India also does not recognize SADR. Some countries of the African Union argue that these two entities should not be part of the AU when it becomes a member of the G20.
Despite the diversity and differences among African nations, the AU’s transition into the G21 alongside the G20 is set to become a reality on September 9, 2023.
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