By Jorge Valero, Michael Nienaber and Samy Adghirni
Group of 20 nations agreed to grant the African Union permanent membership status, according to people familiar with the matter, who said that leaders are expected to announce the decision during a summit in India this weekend.
The move would give the 55-member African Union, which is currently classified as an “invited international organization,” the same status as the EU, according to the people, who asked not to be identified. It’s part of a drive to provide African countries with a stronger voice on global issues such as climate change and emerging-market debt, particularly as emerging markets in the so-called Global South take on a more prominent role in world affairs.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is hosting the G20 summit, has made it a priority to grant the African Union full membership. Giorgia Meloni of Italy was also among those advocating the AU’s G20 membership at the last Group of Seven meeting, which took place in Japan in mid-May.
In early May, during a visit to the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz threw his weight behind calls for the bloc to become a permanent G20 member to give it more say in efforts to tackle global issues like climate change. Scholz argued that Africa must play a greater international role to reflect its growing importance in an increasingly fractured and multipolar world order.
The European Union is keen to take some credit for the G20 step. Leaders from the bloc plan to hold a high-level meeting with African leaders on the sidelines of the summit, which is being skipped by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Dubbed a “mini-summit,” the Europe-Africa meeting will include a discussion of the consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine on global food security — a situation that threatens to escalate after Putin refused to revive a UN-backed deal to allow grain shipments after talks on Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Other topics include efforts to reform the global financial architecture, improving conditions for private investments and infrastructure projects in Africa, as well as the situation in the Sahel region, according to the people.