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Africa should be well represented at the G20, says Executive Secretary

31 Oct, 2014

Africa needs to be well represented at the Group of 20 (G20) Leaders’ Summit that will be held in Brisbane, Australia from 15-16 November 2014, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has said. 

“The G20 does not always consider Africa’s development as part and parcel of the solutions to global economic problem,” stressed Prof. Nnadozie, adding that Africans and the rest of the world should see Africa as part of the solution to the global economic crisis and invest in the continent for mutual benefit.

“African economic development should be seen as central to the G20 objectives both in terms of legitimacy and as part of the G20’s efforts on global rebalancing,” explained the Executive Secretary.

He was speaking during roundtable discussions held at the Australian Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe on 31 October 2014, two weeks ahead of the G20 Leaders Summit. The ACBF and the Australian Embassy organized the roundtable. The event attracted participants from the UN, the African Development Bank, the diplomatic corps and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This year, the G20 is focusing on empowering development so developing countries can attract infrastructure investment, strengthen their tax base and improve their people’s access to financial services.

Speaking at the same forum, Australian Ambassador, H.E. Matthew Neuhaus remarked that the G20 is keen on strategies to stimulate growth and wants to listen to ideas of other countries and especially Africa.

“The Brisbane action plan will look at strategies that can stimulate growth. In that line, the G20 wants to listen to ideas of other countries and especially Africa”, noted Ambassador Neuhaus.

Currently, Africa’s representation in the G20 is inadequate as only South Africa is a full member and has to represent both its national and continental interests. Therefore, experts say, the G20’s commitment do not necessarily reflect the reality of African countries and priorities such as strengthening of productive capacity, increasing productivity, value addition and accelerated industrialization.

Moreover, while nearly every individual G20 country has an Africa strategy, there is no combined G20 strategy for Africa. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the G20 to build bridges among G20 countries and ensure that Africa is represented permanently at the G20 table to improve the G20’s legitimacy.

 Of concern is the high turnover among the African representatives at the G20. Countries and institutions representing Africa at the G20 summits change every year except for the AU commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). However the two institutions have very limited clout as observers.

 Prof. Nnadozie said that Africa recognizes that global economic crises and the resultant economic recession in the rest of the world are bad for economic and social progress in Africa.

Therefore, it is in Africa’s interest to have a high performing global economy because a strong and growing global economy will benefit Africa through increased trade and financial flows. A competitive economy will also attract increased foreign direct investments, official development assistance and oversees remittances, which are necessary for growth, employment and poverty reduction.

Indeed, the emerging consensus is that the world needs a new driver of consumer demand, a new market and a new dynamo which can be Africa.  Clearly an Africa that joins the ranks of global growth poles will benefit both Africa and the rest of the world.  It will generate higher incomes in Africa and enable the continent to tackle such nagging problems as youth unemployment and poverty. This would eventually contribute to increased global demand for goods and services and ultimately to global economic recovery.

 The G20 can add value first and foremost by addressing Africa’s main concerns and challenges. Thereafter, it needs to pay attention to the development priorities of the continent. The G20 could further add value in delivering tangible development outcomes through high level political leadership and a more coherent, results-driven and long term approach.

 Notwithstanding these important steps, several challenges still remain, bringing to the fore the issue of inadequate representation at to the G20. First, the outreach program remains an informal arrangement left to the G20 Summit host country and as a result it has been uneven depending on the country hosting the Summit. Second, the African Union and NEPAD are not full-fledged members of the G20 at least not in the same way as the European Union, which reduces their effectiveness of representation. 

 The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation that brings together the world’s major advanced and emerging economies. It consists of 19 countries and the European Union that represents around 85 per cent of the global economic output, more than three-quarters of global trade, two-thirds of the world’s population and two-thirds of the world’s poor.

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Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
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