The G20 Summit in India avoided being irrelevant by voting for the AU (African Union) to become a member of the organization. But the question must be asked? What benefits does one get from being a member of the G20, and why has it taken the AU more than 20 years to become a member of the G20?
As is usually the case African organizations are often admitted to global entities when they have become irrelevant or when their usefulness is about to expire. And if we look at other members of the organizations, such as South Africa and Russia, the group offers its members no tangible benefits whatsoever. Most member countries are still subordinate to the USA and must pander to the IMF or World Bank for emergency finance. Unlike the G7 and BRICS, which have tangible political, economic, and financial structures to confer benefits to its members, the G20 has none. Through the BRICS members, Russia circumvented all the political, financial, economic, and social sanctions imposed by the USA and its Western allies. And China will very likely do the same.
It was expected that the African Union would become a member of BRICS during its second phase of expansion planned at the next Summit in Russia in 2024. The AU was likely granted admission to the G20 to preempt its forecasted BRICS membership. We can confidently say that Africa should not expect significant benefits from G20 membership. The African Union could, however, use its G20 status in alliance with other sympathetic members to put firm and sustainable pressure on the United Nations to gain permanent representation on its Security Council. In the meantime, the AU should do all that is necessary to decouple from the European Union, which provides most of its funding in preparation for becoming a full member of the BRICS Group, which, together with the G7, will compete to decide the agenda of the global economy during the rest of the 21st century.
By James Norris, Special Project Director, Africa.