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African leaders welcome African Union's membership in G20

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) addresses the G20 Leaders' Summit at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The African Union's entry to the Group of 20 (G20) has been welcomed by leaders across Africa who said the move would give the continent a "voice, visibility, and influence on the global stage."

By granting the African Union membership in the G20, Africa’s leaders -- who have shown their continuous willingness to take collective action -- have moved the continent towards becoming recognized as a global power in itself and as a high-profile global player whose demands will be harder to ignore in the future.

"Kenya welcomes the addition of the African Union -- the fastest growing continent in the world -- to the G20," Kenyan President William Ruto wrote Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"This will increase the voice of Africa, visibility, and influence on the global stage and provide a platform to advance the common interest of our people."

"With Africa poised to grow in the coming years, a seat will allow it to shape the decisions of G20 to ensure the continent's interests are advanced," Ruto said in a separate statement.

"The outcome of the just concluded Africa Climate Summit including fundamental reforms of international financial institutions and multilateral development banks is one thing that AU will advance," he said.

He noted that if Africa’s natural assets are taken into account, the continent is immensely wealthy.

AU Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat said earlier that the move will allow the continent to make "its effective contribution" in helping the world meet global challenges.

"This membership, for which we have long been advocating, will provide a propitious framework for amplifying advocacy in favor of the Continent and its effective contribution to meeting global challenges," he wrote on X.

Comoros president and current AU chairman Azali Assoumani said "it's a great day for me... but also for the whole of Africa, which has just joined the G20, with great emotion and pride".

South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa said on X that he was "delighted" by the move.

"As a continent, we look forward to further advancing our aspirations on the global stage using the G20 platform," Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu posted on X.

Senegaal's President Macky Sall also welcomed the African Union's inclusion in the G20, for which he had long advocated.

"I warmly thank all the members of the G20 for their support for this initiative, which I championed during my term at the head of the African Union", said Sall, who assumed the AU presidency in 2022 until the beginning of 2023.

This advocacy "reflects his vision of fairer and more inclusive global political, economic and financial governance," Senegal's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The African Union at full strength has 55 members but six junta-ruled nations are currently suspended. Collectively, it has a GDP of $3 trillion with some 1.4 billion people.

As the G20, the grouping included 19 countries and the European Union, representing 85 percent of the world's GDP, with South Africa, till recently, as its only member state from the continent.

Currently, there are 21 members in the group: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, South Africa and the African Union.

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