Entry into influential bloc ‘means a lot’ but still unclear whether Africa gets ‘actual seat’ at the table, say analysts
The African Union (AU) joining the Group of 20 (G-20) “means a lot” for the continent, but it remains to be seen whether Africa will get “an actual seat” at the table, according to analysts.
The AU, itself a 55-member bloc, was made a permanent member of the G-20 at the summit in India last week, joining the world’s richest and most powerful nations.
There are several avenues through which the G-20 can make a meaningful impact on Africa, according to Enock Nyorekwa Twinoburyo, a senior economist at the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
“Given that G-20 nations significantly contribute to global economic activity, if the G-20 focuses on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, it has the potential to create more investment opportunities and provide African countries with increased access to global markets,” Nyorekwa told Anadolu.
“By creating a conducive environment for investment, the G-20 can attract more foreign direct investment to Africa. This influx of investment could result in improved infrastructure, technological advancements, and increased production capacities,” he said.
The G-20 was established in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis and, at its core, is an intergovernmental forum primarily concerned with economic issues, comprised of the world’s 20 largest economies – 19 countries and the EU.
“It is often said that if you are not on the table, you are on the menu,” said Nyorekwa.
“Being actively involved in discussions is essential, as being absent can leave you at a disadvantage.”
A voice for Africa
Teddy Kaberuka, a Rwanda-based economic analyst, stressed that joining the G-20 “means a lot” to the continent.
“The presence of the AU in the G-20 is of paramount importance because it will give an opportunity to the AU to voice the challenges facing the continent,” he told Anadolu.
It will also be in a position to “contribute to the global orientation on how issues need to be addressed … as a key player in global development,” he said.
“Africa will be on the negotiating table on strategies, approaches and policies focusing on some of the aspects which may not necessarily be of common interest to others but which are very pertinent for Africa, specifically,” he explained.
“If you consider global trade and bilateral agreements between Africa and the rest of the world … there is much to be improved, which means the G-20 offers a forum for discussions.”
Today, the G-20 accounts for 80% of the world’s economic activity, 75% of international trade and two-thirds of the global population, making it the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
For Nyorekwa, however, the fundamental question now is whether Africa will have an “actual seat” at the table.
“If more genuine friendships are born through this new engagement, then it could spur strong linkages,” he said.
Nyorekwa also pointed out that opportunities from the G-20 are dependent on the policies and regulations enacted by African nations to attract and retain good investments.
Climate action to governance
Committing to reducing trade barriers and promoting fair trade practices could give African exporters improved access to international markets, according to business leaders.
This, in turn, could stimulate economic diversification, bolster export revenues, and facilitate regional integration within Africa.
On debt relief and financing, the G-20 has historically played a pivotal role in offering assistance to developing nations.
According to Nyorekwa, addressing debt sustainability and providing financial support could alleviate the debt burden on African nations, allowing them to redirect resources toward social and economic development priorities.
However, African nations have often been divided over some global issues, which could undermine the AU’s position in the G-20, according some observers.
On the climate front, conservationists believe if the G-20 promotes investments in environmentally friendly initiatives, the development of renewable energy sources and the transfer of technology to Africa, it could help mitigate climate-related risks and support sustainable development in a region that is considered one of the most vulnerable in the world.
Another critical area where the G-20 can help Africa is governance and accountability.
“By championing transparency, anti-corruption measures, and principles of good governance, the G-20 can encourage African nations to enhance their governance practices, strengthen institutions and cultivate a more favorable business environment,” said Nyorekwa.
“Incorporating these strategies into the G-20’s engagement with Africa could contribute significantly to the continent’s development and its ability to address pressing challenges effectively.”