During a concise televised inaugural session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic announcement, welcoming the African Union as the latest permanent member of the G20. This marks the first addition to the G20’s membership since its inception in 1999, a move prompted by a series of financial crises.
The momentous decision took place as leaders from the world’s largest economies convened in New Delhi for a summit that aims to address pressing global challenges, all while the Ukraine crisis looms in the background.
Prime Minister Modi, speaking in Hindi, conveyed India’s proposal to grant permanent membership to the 55-member African bloc within the G20, aligning with the sentiment of “sabka saath” (with everyone). He emphasized the consensus on this proposal, and, following agreement from the gathered leaders, Modi ceremoniously used a gavel to mark the African Union’s entry into the G20 as a permanent member.
Modi extended a warm welcome to Comoros President Azali Assoumani, the current chairperson of the African Union, escorting him to his designated seat. The African Union’s inclusion is set to be part of the draft leaders’ declaration currently under negotiation among G20 states. Similar to the 27-member European Union (EU), the African Union will hold full membership status within the G20.
This move was propelled by India, with the backing of key EU members, China, and Russia, each motivated by their respective reasons. While it won’t lead to a change in the G20’s name, this development reflects a significant step forward in expanding the G20’s representation.
As negotiations continue on addressing the Ukraine crisis and other pressing issues, India, during its G20 presidency, seeks to make strides in various areas, including climate financing, digital public infrastructure, sustainable development goals, and reforming global institutions and multilateral development banks. India has also positioned itself as the advocate for the Global South, making the inclusion of the African Union in the world’s wealthiest economies’ bloc a key component of its efforts.
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