US, EU rally behind African Union’s G20 membership efforts

In a significant development, the African Union’s aspiration to join the G20 received approval from existing member nations during a summit held in India on Friday.

During the G20 summit, which was hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a notable proposal emerged. Modi passionately advocated for the pan-African organization to assume a permanent membership status within the international forum.

His rationale behind this proposal was rooted in the belief that it is imperative for developing nations to exert more influence in the global decision-making process.

The proposal garnered support from Washington, and just recently, on Friday, the European Union expressed its endorsement of the initiative.

“I look forward to welcoming the AU as a permanent member of the G20”, European Council president Charles Michel told reporters in New Delhi, where the two-day G20 summit begins on Saturday.

The Group of 20 major economies currently consists of 19 countries and the European Union, making up about 85 per cent of global GDP and two-thirds of the world population.

However, South Africa is currently the only member of the continent.

AU’s Role in the Global Economy

The African Union, headquartered in Ethiopia, emerged in 2002 as the successor to the Organisation of African Unity, which had been disbanded.

Currently, it has 55 members, but six junta-ruled nations are currently suspended. Collectively it has a GDP of $3trillion with some 1.4 billion people.

At the summit, Vinay Kwatra, India’s top diplomat in foreign service, shared the hope that a decision concerning AU membership would emerge during the Saturday morning summit, resulting in mutual growth in economic development among members.

  • In December 2022, U.S. President, Joe Biden, said he wanted the AU “to join the G20 as a permanent member”, adding that it had “been a long time in coming, but it’s going to come”.

On Tuesday, Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, reiterated the stance while discussing the U.S. priorities for the New Delhi summit.

We’re also looking forward to warmly welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20 — the newest permanent member. We believe that the African Union’s voice will make the G20 stronger,” Sullivan said at a White House briefing.

China/Russian Drums Support for AU Membership

In addition, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters “China is the first country that explicitly expressed its support for the African Union’s membership in the G-20”.

He said,

  • At the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue last month, President Xi Jinping again stressed that China will work actively to support the AU’s full membership in the G-20. China and the AU are important partners in building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future and safeguarding international fairness and justice. China supports the AU in playing a bigger role in global governance.”

Russia’s G-20 Sherpa was also quoted as saying by Russian media that Moscow was among the first to support the AU’s membership.

More on G20 summits

On the national front, President Tinubu travelled to India alongside key cooperate industrialists to woo foreign investors to the country. So far, the president and his team have been able to secure about a $14 billion dollars pledge of investment in steel, petrochemicals and manufacturing.

In the Nigeria-India Presidential Roundtable and conference in New Delhi, the president said to investors that the country is “ready to give the best return for investment, so invest now.”

Among these many new investments, Indorama Petrochemical Limited has pledged a new investment of $8 billion in the expansion of its fertilizer production and petrochemical facility in Eleme, Rivers State.

Jindal Steel and Power Limited, one of India’s largest private steel producers, has committed to investing $3 billion in Nigeria, following discussions with President Tinubu on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in New Delhi, India

Founding President of SkipperSeil Limited, Jitender Sachdeva, announced that following President Bola Tinubu’s personal intervention, he is investing $1.6 billion in the establishment of twenty 100MW power generation plants across the states of Northern Nigeria, amounting to 2,000MW of new power within the next four years.

Additionally, the president has approved the finalization of a new $1 billion agreement to bring the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) to 40 per cent self-sufficiency in local manufacturing and production of defence equipment in-country by 2027 through a comprehensive new partnership with the Managing Arm of the Miltary-Industrial Complex of the Indian Government.

Emphasizing that under his pragmatic leadership, agreements must now manifest in industries and jobs on the ground in Nigeria, President Tinubu expressed gratitude to all Indian companies and individuals who have responded positively to his administration’s efforts to improve Nigeria’s macroeconomic and investment climate.

  • Do not procrastinate. Don’t be frightened about investments in Nigeria. Bring it on. Ask your questions and make your requests. The trade and investment opportunities are enormous. I have a team, and I am the captain of that team, and I assure you that we solve problems,” the president affirmed.

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