While the next G20 summit will be held in Rome on October 30 and 31, 2021, Africa is still missing. Why does the continent shine so much by its absence?
It was in April 2020. The G20 finance ministers agreed to partially suspend the debt service of many low-income states, including several African countries. A decision taken unilaterally by the members of the G20, of which South Africa is the only African member. This is a debate that has persisted for too many years: Africa is largely absent from this “group of 20” richest countries. The continent is the least represented in the G20 - with the exception of Oceania which has only Australia.
In 2008, however, as the G20 countries gathered in Washington to discuss the overhaul of the international financial system, Africa had an opportunity to weigh a little more within the club of leaders of the richest industrialized and emerging countries. . “It was envisaged that Africa would have its own representative (…) at least as an observer, explained Philippe Hugon, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris), at Les Echos. But African countries did not seize this opportunity and did not request it ”.
"Africa cannot be kept on the margins since it is the future of the world"
Shortly before the Washington summit, Congolese President Denis Sassou N'Guesso spoke "on behalf of all African heads of state" and indicated that it is "unacceptable for Africa to be sidelined. Of the American meeting of the G20, like others. Seven African heads of state then asked “DSN” to represent them at the Washington summit. The Congolese head of state demanded that the African Union find its place within the group. "What is at stake today is the future of the world, Africa cannot be kept on the margins since it is precisely the future of the world," he said at the time.
A year later, in London this time, Africa was once again absent from discussions at a G20 meeting. A real injustice: the discussions of the "group of 20" make it possible in particular to reform the world financial system, but excluding an entire continent from it prevents the 54 countries that make it up from being heard, despite the presence of South Africa. South which is there in its own name and not in that of the continent.
De facto, Africa is therefore largely forgotten in the decisions that result from successive G20 meetings. How can the only rich countries making up the G20, even for a moment, think of a continent they know only too badly? Especially since the perpetual fall in the price of raw materials, combined with the reduction in aid from developed countries to Africa, have real economic consequences for the continent.
In 2017, Germany invites Africa to the G20 summit
In 2017, Germany hosted the annual G20 summit. An exceptional meeting for Africa: two African representatives - Senegalese President Macky Sall and AU President Alpha Condé - were invited for the first time, several African heads of state had been received by the Chancellor.
“This presence owes nothing to chance. The African population will double by 2050 to reach at least 2,5 billion inhabitants, and half of this population will be under 25, said that year Friederike Röder, director of the NGO One France. Africa is on the way to becoming the most dynamic and youngest continent on the planet ”.
An African presence which owes a lot to Germany. Chancellor Angela Mergel had, in 2017, indicated that she would give a privileged place to Africa. The G20 then discussed a “Partnership with Africa”.
The fact remains that, apart from this G20 in 2017, Africa today remains far removed from the discussions of the various international summits. One wonders if, one day, African countries will be able to participate in the decision-making of the “group of 20”. In the meantime, the continent has only to follow the path traced by the G20… without being able to draw its outlines.