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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 21st July 2022

African Union wins backing for its bid to join G20

Blue Lines

Two G20 meetings have broken up this year without agreeing a final communiqué – first in Washington in April and then in Bali, Indonesia, this month – raising fresh doubts about the organisation's value. Yet African Union officials are pushing to join the G20, arguing that being shut out of the grouping has cut Africa's influence over policy and measures to address the effects of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on energy and food prices.

The G77 of developing countries has complained that international tax policy has been dictated by the 30 wealthy states in the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. That could now change. Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has indicated that he will use his government's hosting of the G20 summit in November to argue for the AU to be a member of the bloc. South Africa is currently the only African member of the group.

There is logic to the request. AU officials point to the European Union, whose two main leaders, the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council, both attend G20 summits, as the precedent it should follow. Finance ministers from Egypt, Senegal and Ghana have sent a letter to the G20 formally requesting more African engagement, as well as revival of the debt suspension initiative introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, and a new issuance of special drawing rights by the IMF to cover the cost of increased fuel and grain prices.