In a landmark achievement for India’s G20 presidency, the African Union (AU) got a permanent seat at the G20 high table with PM Narendra Modi announcing it in his opening remarks at the leaders’ summit. Foreign minister S Jaishankar escorted AU chair and Comoros President Azali Assoumani to his seat after Modi brought the ceremonial gavel down to invite AU to the premier forum for global economic cooperation.
PM Modi also embraced Assoumani before guiding him to his seat. Amid the gloom of Ukraine war, and its restraining effects on India’s G20 presidency, PM Modi had written to all G20 leaders in June seeking a permanent membership for the 55-member continental group which is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and has a combined GDP of $ 2.4 trillion.
“It was in the spirit of ‘Sabka Saath’ that India proposed permanent membership for the African Union in the G20. I believe that we all agree on this proposal,” said PM Modi, as he invited the AU chair.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar later said it was a matter of particular satisfaction that AU had become a member of G20 under India’s presidency. “It’s in line with our priority to address the concerns of the Global South,” he said.
As a resource-rich country with 1.3 billion people and youthful demographic, Africa has been keen to play a more significant role in international affairs. The AU is the second regional group, after EU, to join G20. Only South Africa was a member of G20 so far. While a formal proposal from AU for membership came only last year, African countries had been advocating for G20 inclusion for the past 7 years.
According to Indian authorities, Modi himself led from the front for AU membership as he believed this would be a step towards a ‘just, fair, more inclusive and representative global architecture and governance’.
“Prime Minister is a strong believer in having a greater Voice of the Global South countries on international platforms, particularly African countries. As part of India’s G20 presidency, he has particularly focused on incorporating the priorities of African countries in the G20 agenda,” an Indian official had said earlier.
For India, which has been expanding its presence in Africa, the AU membership is important also to show to the world that its focus on the Global South in G20 was not just empty talk. AU’s inclusion was one of the rare issues that major powers like the US, Russia and also China, which is a major lender and trading partner of Africa, agreed on.

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