The African Union (AU) has formally taken its seat as a new member of the G20 group of leading economies. The announcement was made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the bloc's summit in New Delhi on Saturday.
The AU now has the same status as the European Union, which was the only regional bloc with full membership. The African Union’s previous designation was “invited international organization.”
“With everyone’s approval, I request the AU head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member,” Modi said in his opening address, with the African bloc’s head Azali Assoumani then taking a seat alongside world leaders.
Founded in 1999, the African Union is made up of 55 African countries and encompasses virtually the entire continent. The member-states collectively make key political and economic decisions. One of the AU’s main objectives is to eliminate “the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid” as well as promoting unity and solidarity among its members. South Africa was previously the only African country with membership in the G20.
The idea of the AU taking a permanent seat at the G20 was first advocated by Senegalese President Macky Sall, who told the UN General Assembly in September 2022 that the move would mean “that Africa can, at last, be represented where decisions are taken that affect 1.4 billion Africans.”