Africa at the G20: Can the continent get a permanent seat?

Damien Glez
By Damien Glez

A French/Burkinabé artist and editorialist.

Posted on Monday, 21 November 2022 12:52
By Damien Glez

At the Indonesian meeting of countries with the most developed economies, the African Union is once again calling for the continent's permanent integration.

At the Indonesian meeting of countries with the most developed economies, the African Union is once again calling for the continent’s permanent integration.

G7, G8, G20, UN Security Council, Commonwealth, BRICS group or Davos circle… There seems to be as many groupings of countries as there are themed ‘World _ Days’. However, the embarrassment of choice does not dissuade every political actor on the planet from obtaining seats in as many of these geo-economic-political ‘service clubs’ as possible.

When a country seems too Lilliputian to be co-opted into a league of giants, it is the groupings of nations that try to integrate other larger communities, in a logic of nesting dolls. Therefore, the current president of the African Union, Macky Sall, took up his pilgrim’s staff in Bali to obtain the permanent integration of the AU, to which his country – Senegal – belongs, into the G20.

In fact, at the Indonesian summit of the Group of 20, which was held on 15-16 November, the continent was represented as it has been at every meeting of the intergovernmental forum. At an evening with a dress code of ‘traditional Indonesian fabric’, Macky Sall, Cyril Ramaphosa and Paul Kagame were probably the least disoriented by the colourful shirts. South Africa is a member of the G20, while the Rwandan president currently represents the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which has survived its near disappearance from the media.

Being systematically invited is no longer enough for the current chair of the African Union. First, a seat allocated to a collective organisation would not be incongruous, as the G20 is in fact composed of 19 countries, plus the EU. Secondly, the Senegalese spokesperson for the continent insists that it would be less of a favour than a geopolitical necessity that would provide “legitimacy and authority”. Africa is home to more than 15% of the world’s 8 billion people, a share that is set to grow. As for the proportion of Africanity in terms of the themes addressed, the continent seems to be even more prevalent – with this year’s questions of food insecurity, climate, energy or even debt.

These are all crises that affect Africa, but also the world, via rebounds both economic and migratory. Multilateral global governance is therefore not a matter of ‘begging’, but concerns the interests of all…

As early as last September, Macky Sall prepared the ground for the 77th UN General Assembly, where he pleaded that a seat be reserved for Africa within the G20.

Africa is also demanding permanent representation at the UN Security Council…

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