G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

African Union and the G20: Africa on the high table


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G20 and global missions

Mains level : Benefits of the AU's inclusion in the G20

What’s the news?

  • India’s 18th G20 Summit, held under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made history by admitting the African Union (AU) into the G20.

Central idea

  • The addition of the African Union as the 21st member brings substantial weight to the G20. It significantly enhances the G20’s global economic and financial governance. With Africa’s representation, the G20 becomes a more inclusive and influential body, covering a vast portion of the world’s population, GDP, and trade.

Africa’s Stake and Strength

  • Stake in G20 Inclusion:
  • Representation: Africa’s inclusion in the G20 through the African Union (AU) provides the continent with a significant voice and presence in global economic and financial governance.
  • Global Economic Impact: Africa’s inclusion in the G20 is notable because it represents the continent’s growing economic influence. Africa possesses substantial resources, including agricultural land, minerals, metals (including rare earth minerals), and a young workforce.
  • Developmental Challenges: Africa faces numerous developmental challenges, including widespread poverty, conflict, political instability, climate stress, environmental degradation, and socioeconomic devastation from various crises. These challenges underscore the importance of Africa’s participation in the G20 for addressing global public goods (GPGs) and development issues.
  • Strengths Leveraged in the G20:
  • Resource Abundance: Africa’s wealth of natural resources positions it as a significant contributor to G20 discussions on resource utilization, sustainable development, and global economic growth.
  • Economic Integration: Africa’s ongoing economic and political integration, including initiatives like the African Free Trade Area and “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want,” demonstrate its commitment to becoming an economic powerhouse.
  • Demographic Advantage: Africa’s large and youthful population presents opportunities for future global economic growth and trade partnerships.
  • Alignment with Global Goals: Africa’s role in achieving global goals, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), underscores its importance within the G20 for coordinated efforts to meet these goals.

Benefits of the AU’s inclusion in the G20

  • Enhanced Representation and Credibility: The AU’s inclusion makes the G20 more representative and enhances its credibility as a global decision-making body.
  • Effective Policy Implementation: AU’s participation is expected to improve the implementation of G20 policies, programs, measures, principles, and initiatives.
  • African Voice and Influence: The AU’s presence provides Africa with a voice, participation, and leadership role at the global high table, enabling African countries to influence the global agenda and priorities.
  • Cooperation and Leveraging Resources: The AU’s inclusion fosters cooperation within the G20 and allows for the mutual leveraging of Africa’s abundant resources for the benefit of all member nations.

Strategic Benefits for India

  • Deepened Partnerships: India can strengthen its strategic, political, economic, technological, trade, and people-to-people partnerships with African nations. AU’s inclusion provides India with a unique opportunity to foster deeper relationships across various sectors.
  • Regional and Sub-Regional Engagement: India can engage with African countries on both regional and sub-regional levels. This enables India to extend its influence and cooperation beyond individual nations and into larger African regions.
  • Collaboration with Like-Minded Partners: India can collaborate with like-minded partners from the North, such as Japan and the United States, to further its interests in Africa. These partnerships can lead to joint initiatives and investments in the continent.
  • Diplomatic Trust: Prime Minister Modi’s successful efforts to secure the AU’s inclusion in the G20 have earned the trust and gratitude of African nations. This trust can translate into diplomatic goodwill and cooperation on various global issues.
  • A Counterbalance: The AU’s presence in the G20 can serve as a counterbalance to China’s efforts to influence African countries, especially in matters related to UN Security Council reform. India’s alignment with African interests can bolster its position.
  • Economic Opportunities: Africa’s economic growth and integration present opportunities for Indian businesses to invest and trade in the region. India can leverage its participation in the G20 to facilitate economic engagement with African partners.
  • Global Influence: By actively engaging with African nations within the G20, India can enhance its global influence and stature as a country that promotes inclusive development and cooperation.

G20’s global mission

  • Conclusion Global Economic and Financial System: The G20 plays a pivotal role in shaping the global economic, financial, and monetary system. It strives to establish a framework that is fair and adheres to established rules and principles.
  • Providing Global Public Goods (GPGs): The G20 is committed to providing global public goods, which can encompass shared resources, technologies, and knowledge that benefit all nations. These may include international tax packages and initiatives in areas like digital health.
  • Addressing Global Public Bads (GPBs): Beyond providing public goods, the G20 addresses global public bads—issues and threats that transcend national borders. This involves taking concerted actions against challenges such as money laundering, counterterrorism financing, and other transnational risks.
  • Supporting Developing Countries:
  • A significant aspect of the G20’s mission is to create a level playing field for developing countries. It involves taking affirmative measures to assist those nations facing the most significant challenges.
  • Key areas of focus include reforming Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), providing stimulus for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), financing initiatives related to green development and climate transition, issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) during crises, and addressing food security and supply chain disruptions.


  • Admitting the African Union into the G20 during India’s presidency is a historic achievement that enhances the G20’s credibility and inclusivity. AU’s inclusion adds a valuable perspective to the G20’s discussions and decisions, making it a more powerful and representative body on the world stage.


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