Africa would do well to grab the opportunity to be represented at the Group of 20 (G20) and take its place on the global stage as a way to grow its economies, an expert has said.
Now that the African Union (AU) has been admitted as full member of the G20, an opportunity has been opened for the continent to play a role in shaping the new world economic order.
AU acceptance into elite club The AU’s membership was announced during the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, where nations discussed the world economy and its many challenges.
But is Africa ready for it?
International relations expert Professor Siphamandla Zondi said the AU’s G20 membership was in recognition of Africa’s economic significance and this opened an opportunity for Africa “to tap into the markets of the 20 most dynamic, biggest and most productive economies in the world, and be part of shaping new global economic order in the world”.
“The opportunity that comes with this can only be meaningful if Africa is ready to take and make use of it and that is what is going to be a challenge,” Zondi said.
He said Africa’s economically capable nations, such as South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and a few others, had a duty to make sure that Africa as a collective was ready.
“It won’t be all 55 countries that get us ready, it will be those which have the capacity and experience that will get the whole continent ready to negotiate its interests the best going forward.
“It won’t be enough for the African continent to be on the table, it will be important for Africa to feast on the table that it got for itself,” Zondi said.
Fellow expert Dr Jan Venter, from North-West University, said it was significant that with the emerging new power bloc led by Russia and China, the West would seek to reposition itself towards Africa.
“The Western countries and institutions would rather have Africa join them than have them slip into the grip of more radical and newer institutions or blocs.
“So I think they are likely to open up,” Venter said. He alluded to the strengthening of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) as an economic power house.
Zondi said the decision to admit the AU as a full member was significant because it placed the regional body as the second non-country to become a G20 member after the European Union.
It is recognition that the African region is an important region for the world.
South Africa had been leading the charge calling for the reform of multilateral forums, including the United Nations and financial institutions like World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others to become more inclusive and to implement more flexible practices in their lending policies.
Zondi noted the role played by South Africa and others as Africa’s mouthpiece.
“South Africa has the privilege of being on platforms where other African countries are not and correctly, in line with its foreign policy, it makes sure that it advances Africa’s interest, puts Africa’s issues on the world agenda and campaigns for Africa to gain an advantage in any of the platforms.
“It’s something that South Africa had been doing for a period of time,” Zondi said.
As South Africa had been a voice of Africa since 1994, it would have been a huge surprise if the country were to take a selfish position and not stand for the entire continent in the world.