African Union needs a permanent seat at G-20, ministers say

Representation at the G-20 will bolster the continent’s engagement with the group at a time when soaring energy and grain prices threaten to tip poor nations over the brink.
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The African Union should have a permanent seat at the Group of 20 leading economies to give the continent more say as it struggles with the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine, according to three ministers from the region.

Representation at the G-20 will bolster the continent’s engagement with the group at a time when soaring energy and grain prices threaten to tip poor nations over the brink, according to a letter signed by the economy and finance ministers of Senegal, Ghana and Egypt last week.

“Having Africa as a member through the African Union, will strengthen the G-20,” according to a copy of the letter seen by Bloomberg and addressed to the group’s finance ministers and central bankers. “Increasing the continent’s representation in the G-20 deliberations will allow for continuity and a more responsive engagement,” Senegalese Economy Minister Amadou Hott, Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta and Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said.

The continent should represented in the G-20, just as the European Union is with its presidency, African Union spokesperson Ebba Kalondo said in an emailed comment. “Africans should be fully represented at the world’s key decision forums, not just observers,” Kalondo said. “The G-20 can and must set the bar in this regard.”

South Africa is the only G-20 member from the continent, whose leaders are demanding a bigger voice in international organizations deciding on measures that affect their countries. The request also comes weeks after South Africa moved closer to become the region’s first full member of the Paris Club, which consists of mostly rich government creditors trying to coordinate global efforts to avert a slew of debt defaults among poor nations.

In the letter, the ministers asked for an immediate liquidity injection for nations on the continent through a new issuance of International Monetary Fund reserves known as special drawing rights. The IMF allocated a record $650 billion of SDRs last year.

They also called for a revival of a debt-suspension initiative that ended in December and to extend that plan for two more years.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo plans to invite the continental body when leaders of the world’s largest economies convene in November as soaring inflation exacerbates a hunger crisis across the continent.

The African Union is a grouping of 55 states with a combined gross domestic product of more than $2 trillion, which would place it within the world’s top 10 largest economies.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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