G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

How India made G20 a forum for developing countries

Central idea

  • The G20 summit attracted attention as it started with a clear consensus to invite the African Union (AU) as its member. India’s initiative to include African Union in G20 was unanimously accepted. This was a unique reordering of the global high table.

India’s efforts for inclusion of the African Union

  • India’s big bet: Of the AU’s 55 members, 54 are in the United Nations. Only one African country, South Africa, has been an original member of the G20. No presidency has ever risked amending the membership for fear of competing rivalries.
  • Global platform for Africa: It has been India’s case that not only must the G20 reflect the priorities of the Global South but must also include those who are underrepresented, particularly from Africa.
  • Inviting major African countries: The AU has double the number of countries as the EU. The AU has been invited to G20 meetings, and some presidencies have held African outreach events in a manner of telling them what is good for them. It is India that has actually taken the initiative of talking with them rather than at them.

Importance of AU

  • Africa as the road to the global south: India aspires to bring the global south to the center of the G20 agenda. The elevation of the AU is courageous; no presidency has attempted to alter the composition for fear of claims from other regional organizations.
  • Branding itself using Africa: The AU fits in with the rebranding of the G20 that India undertook. This is India’s harambee (Swahili word for co-operation) factor—the spirit of developmental cooperation in action.
  • AU as a voiceless block: The AU is the largest of regional institutions and the one with a limited voice in most international fora, despite having 54 votes in the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Partner for India at the High Table: The prospects of Africa getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council remain distant. What India has achieved, as always, is to provide Africa with a voice at the high table.

India’s engagement with Arican Nations

  • Nigeria: Inviting Nigeria, particularly at this stage, recognizes it as the largest economy in Africa and a consistent friend of India. This is Nigeria’s biggest outing since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was elected. Nigeria was qualified to be in the BRICS but perhaps did not pursue it hard enough. Nigeria participated with great enthusiasm, with a number of ministers accompanying their president in advance of the G20 Summit.
  • Egypt: Egypt is another African powerhouse, representing North Africa. It is also the current chair of AU-NEPAD, which is a permanent invitee to the G20. Egypt is a recent strategic partner of India. India backed it to join the BRICs. Egypt brings balance to the presence of South Africa and Nigeria.
  • Mauritius: Mauritius is a close friend of India due to its PIO population, its regular engagement with India, and its strategic location in the Indian Ocean.
  • Comoros: Comoros is another Indian Ocean country representing Eastern Africa. With their participation, India ensured two of the four African countries in the Indian Ocean and most of the regions of Africa were represented, making the G20 better balanced.


  • The African Union is hot bed for great power rivalry between India and China. Even if India cannot match the deep pockets of Chinese investments in Africa, India has shown that it can deliver on the African Interest at global platform.

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