So far, only one country from Africa is a member of the G20 club – Germany’s head of government wants to change that: “This requires respect for the continent and its many states and also its growing population,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a visit to the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. “I’ve had a lot of conversations and I feel like there’s broad, growing support for that.” He assumes that the accession of the 55-state AU can succeed “in the not too distant future,” he said after a meeting with the chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The G20 currently includes 19 countries and the European Union, including the world’s most populous countries and largest economies. Members include the US, China, Russia, India and Germany. From Africa, only South Africa has been included so far – a country that is currently viewed with skepticism by the West because of its proximity to Russia.
South Africa has always abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly on the condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and forms the BRICS group of states with China, Russia, India and Brazil.
For comparison: South America is represented at the G20 with Argentina and Brazil, Asia with China, Japan, India, Indonesia and South Korea as well as Saudi Arabia, which can also be counted as part of Asia geographically.
The African desire for more participation is not new. For decades, the continent’s states have been trying to get a seat on the UN Security Council. However, every attempt at reform by the body failed, mainly because the veto powers USA, France, Great Britain, China and Russia blocked each other.
This is one of the reasons why efforts to strengthen Africa’s international representation are now focused on the G20. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa had already spoken out in favor of a place for the AU in the G20 last year.
He received support from French President Emmanuel Macron, who also spoke out in favor of future participation by the AU. US President Joe Biden joined Macron’s push and campaigned for the AU to join the G20 during a US-Africa summit in December 2022.
With 55 countries, the African Union includes all internationally recognized African countries as well as the internationally disputed country of Western Sahara. The AU thus represents the interests of around 1.4 billion people. In the European Union, on the other hand, with 447.7 million inhabitants, only around a third as many people live. According to the International Monetary Fund, the countries of the AU generated around three trillion US dollars last year, while the EU generated almost 16 trillion euros.
For Scholz, Ethiopia is the first stop on his second major trip to Africa as head of government. It should also be about regional conflicts, renewable energies and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. From Ethiopia we continue to Kenya, Germany’s most important partner country in East Africa.
Scholz traveled to Africa for the first time in May 2022, very soon after taking office, and visited the Bundeswehr troops in Niger, the West African state of Senegal and South Africa, the only G20 member on the continent. The second trip after only 17 months in office should now show that he does not want to leave the neighboring continent to his very active competitors China and Russia.
uh/AR (dpa, afp)