by Xinhua writer Gao Wencheng
(Xinhua) — The African Union (AU) celebrated its founding anniversary Saturday, marking its creation in 1999. This year, the joy was doubled as the AU became a new Group of 20 (G20) member on the same day.
“It’s finally Africa’s time,” many Africans said on social media, echoing “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” the official song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
It’s a dreams-come-true moment for the AU, which has long strived for a more significant role in world affairs. In the AU’s Agenda 2063, the continent’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future, “Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner,” is one of seven aspirations.
According to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU Commission, they “have long been advocating” this G20 membership, and he believes it “will provide a propitious framework for amplifying advocacy in favor of the continent and its effective contribution to meeting global challenges.”
In addition to the AU’s intense diplomatic efforts, its success in joining the G20 was achieved on the back of Africa’s growing clout. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, with the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, the continent is emerging as a magnet for consumer markets and products. Meanwhile, the African Continental Free Trade Area has further unlocked Africa’s economic vitality and market potential.
In the continent’s march towards “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,” the AU has been Africa’s most representative and crucial inter-government organization. Since its inception, it has significantly contributed to peace, stability and development in Africa and become a banner of strength through unity. The continental body has also effectively coordinated its 55 members to speak as one on the international stage, commanding more global attention.
With full membership in the G20, the AU has renewed momentum to participate vigorously in world affairs. The next time the G20 discusses major international economic issues, Africa will have a bigger say in shaping global governance and striving for more benefits for the African people.
The addition of the AU to the G20 “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,” Kenyan President William Ruto commented.
The AU’s accession to the G20 is of global significance. The collective rise of emerging markets and developing countries is fundamentally changing the global landscape. The Global South, including many African countries, has consistently pursued strategic autonomy and emerged as an indispensable party in international affairs.
The rise of the Global South has significantly increased the multipolarity of the international system. The AU’s membership in the G20 has provided a new impetus for this process.
Given the desire for a more multipolar world, China and other partners have supported the AU in pursuing a G20 membership and its efforts to amplify African voices. China was the first country to explicitly express its support for including the AU in the G20. China supports prioritizing Africa’s aspirations on the UN Security Council and urges multilateral financial institutions to increase African representation.
That’s why Senegalese President Macky Sall has hailed China as a staunch friend of Africa and thanked China for being the first to publicly support the AU in joining the G20.
On many occasions, China, as the largest developing country in the world and a member of the Global South, has repeatedly called for developing countries to have a greater voice in global governance. In his recent meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Chinese Premier Li Qiang emphasized the need to reform global economic governance and increase the representation of developing countries in international financial institutions.
The efforts of China and other Global South nations have gradually paid off.
At Saturday’s G20 session, when Azali Assoumani, president of the Union of the Comoros and current AU chairperson, assumed his seat as a new member representative, applause erupted. Similarly, at the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, the announcement of BRICS expansion was met with a round of applause. The two rounds of applause mirror the popularity of a multipolar world and greater democracy in international relations.
While celebrating the diplomatic success of the AU, J. C. Okechukwu, a Nigerian filmmaker, recalled the bitter history of Africa. At the founding of the UN in 1945, when many African countries were fighting for decolonization from the West, only four African countries were present. “How can a slave sit at the table with his masters for meals or talks?” he said on X, explaining the absence of most African countries in then-global governance.
Almost eight decades later, the AU is now a G20 permanent member, representing what Okechukwu calls “the aggressive emergence of the multipolar world today.”
His observation is on point.