Event: From Paris to Delhi: The Demand for a New Financial Architecture – Why the G20 Needs the African Union

Development Reimagined and the African Climate Foundation (ACF) co-hosted a panel discussion on the side lines of the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris.  

The session explored the possibility of having the AU and AU Commission as permanent members of the G20, creating a “G21.” A “G21” would enable a more diverse representation of the continent and bring further African agency and voices to the table. 

Indeed, the G20, comprising 19 countries and the European Union, represents over 80% of the global GDP and 75% of global trade. It is a critical platform for discussing economies and developing solutions to economic crises, making it the economic and financial “security council.”  

However, despite having the eighth largest economy globally, with a collective GDP of US$3.1 trillion and a population of 1.3 billion, the African region is underrepresented in the G20. The African Union (AU) has a similar institutional arrangement as Europe, including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), but it is only invited as an observer and not a permanent member of the G20. This is despite the continent’s significant economic and financial implications for the G20 countries and vice versa. Overall, the G20’s decisions have a major impact on Africa.  

There have been recent shifts to extend the G20 to the AU. To date, 14 of the G20 members have shown explicit support for the AU’s inclusion – with 6 countries remaining: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Italy, Mexico and Russia.  

The session explored several key themes including: 

  • The importance of African representation in multilateral fora cannot be underestimated – and the shift towards Africa having a common voice and message can be seen through different key moments, 
  • Africa is part of the global solutions to global challenges. The continent is home to the world’s youngest population, with growing economic capabilities. Given that the G20 is a pacesetter table – the world cannot afford to exclude Africa from these discussions, 
  • There is a need to continue to scale up solid coordination within the continent to enable positive multilateral change to work for African countries, 
  • Questions remain around the modalities for AU engagement within the G21. The AU is a different body to the EU, and will need to function in a different way, given that the AU has a rotating chair. How to empower the mandate and capacity of AU engagement is a crucial area to explore in preparation for the AU joining the G20. 

Speakers included: 

  • H.E Mr Albert Muchanga – Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, African Union Commission. 
  • Dr Hanan Morsy – Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). 
  • Ms Faten Aggad – Senior Advisor on Climate Diplomacy at the African Climate Foundation (ACF). 
  • Ms Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi – the Executive Vice President of the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET). 
  • Ms Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). 
  • Ms Ivory Kairo, Policy Analyst and Communications Lead at Development Reimagined. 





To support understanding of the opportunities and challenges of the G21, Development Reimagined released an in-depth policy brief tackling these questions, available in English, Spanish and Arabic. 

We would like to thank Development Reimagined team members – Jade Scarfe, Ivory Kairo, Christy Un, Huiyi Chen and Ovigwe Eguegu – for their work on the policy brief and the event, as well as the African Climate Foundation for their support during the Financing Summit. 

June 2023

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