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What role can G20 play in achieving sustainable development in Africa?

17.07.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
The 2019 edition of the meeting of the G20, officially known as “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” was hosted by Japan in Osaka on 28-29 June. This is was the first G20 summit to be hosted by Japan.

The Group of 20 popularly known as G20 is an international group which was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis, to serve as a forum for financial ministers and central bank governors of the 19 member countries; Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union. It should be noted that South Africa is the only African G20 member.

The G20 Leaders annual summits officially began in 2008 when US President George W. Bush invited its members to organize actions in response to the global financial crisis. The Group of 20 have held meetings annually since 2010, with the host from a different member country every year.

The primary objective of G20 include; achieving global economic stability and sustainable growth through policy coordination, promoting financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises and to create new international financial architecture. Nevertheless, every summit is organised under a new theme which looks at current and pressing matters. The theme for this year was centred on global economy, trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, employment, women’s empowerment and development.

The relation between G20 and Africa

Many organisations, bilateral and multilateral groups have always shown interest on Africa and also given it a lot of attention, be it terms of development, humanitarian aid, justice, good governance or peace.

The G20 since 2010, has strived to offer assistance to Africa especially in relation to her development. It should be noted that only one African country; South Africa, is a permanent member of the Group of 20. Organisations like the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) attend G20 summits as observers.

G20’s interest in Africa came to the light in 2010, when the group decided to continue the allowance lending facilities to the African Development Bank (AfDB) despite the global financial crisis in 2008. This was to enable Africa meet up with the millennium development goals. From then on, the group has during their summits picked areas of interest to work on regarding Africa such as facilitation trade, fighting for food security and agriculture.

In 2017, at the Hamburg Summit, the partnership between Africa and G20 was officially launched under the banner “Compact with Africa”. This partnership is aimed at promoting non-commercial infrastructure and private investment in Africa. Some of its initiatives include; Skills4Girls, Rural Youth Employment, African Renewable Energy and facilitates investment compacts. So far, 12 African countries are part of this partnership; Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Egypt and Guinea. It should be noted that South Africa; a permanent member of G20 is not yet part of Compact with Africa.

G20’s role in Sustainable development in Africa

If you do not know exactly what a person’s problem is, no matter how much you try to help, your efforts will always be misdirected or be in vain. This is the case with G20 and Africa. This is not to say that the group cannot be useful to Africa. But to be able to help develop Africa, Africa needs to be part of the discussions at G20 summits. South Africa alone cannot represent the whole continent (her personal needs will always be prime). The African Union too cannot transmit the real situation Africa is in because she attends G20 submits as an observer without a voice. In addition to this, African countries may face similar development problems but there are other problems that are unique to every country, thus cannot be treated as a whole. As a result, the G20 needs to review their schemes so that their efforts towards sustainable development in Africa will be fruitful.

  • They can begin by giving Africa a stronger voice during the summit so they can better express their needs. This could be achieved by giving the African Union Commission a permanent seat at in the G20
  • They could also try to find solutions to the problems that hinder development in Africa, which in most cases is war and conflict.
  • While development is important, the G20 needs to understand that it not the only problem Africa has. Africa is also affected by climate change and global trading standards and financial stability. In this light, Africa needs to be part of the decision making process so that they will be beneficial to the continent, rather than stay back and suffer as a result of arbitrary decisions taken during summits, which will only hinder her development.
  • The G20 can greatly contribute in sustainable development in Africa by encouraging member countries to establish win-win relations with Africa, be it in trade or investment, so that each partner will achieve something good from the relationship, rather than the usual exploitative relationships that developed countries have with Africa.

Giving Africa the voice to table her problems at the G20 summit is the first step towards contributing to sustainable development on the continent. Also, Africa needs to be considered good enough and capable of contributing to solving global problems like climate change and setting global trading standards. She may not have the financial capacity to do so, but money is worthless without good ideas on how to use it. G20’s impact in Africa will be stronger when they understand that they cannot solve Africa’s problem in her absence.

Article from AFRIC editorial

Photo credit: google images/ illustration

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