Overwhelming response to PM's proposal of making African Union permanent member of G-20: Amitabh Kant

July 23, 2023 11:11 pm | Updated July 24, 2023 06:44 am IST - New Delhi

India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said PM Modi’s proposal on giving G-20 membership to the African Union received widespread support. File

India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said PM Modi’s proposal on giving G-20 membership to the African Union received widespread support. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposal to make the African Union a permanent member of the G-20 has received overwhelming response from the grouping, India's G-20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant has said.

In an interview with PTI, the top negotiator noted that India was "very hopeful" of the African continental body finding a permanent position in the G-20 during New Delhi's presidency of the grouping.

Last month, Mr. Modi wrote to the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies pitching for giving the African Union full membership of the grouping at its upcoming summit in New Delhi in September.

The proposal was formally included in the draft leaders' declaration at the third G-20 Sherpas' meeting that took place in Karnataka's Hampi from July 13 to 16.

The African Union (AU) is an influential organisation consisting of 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent.

The Sherpas held four extensive rounds of discussions during the gathering to give shape to the leaders' declaration to be adopted at the New Delhi summit.

Mr. Kant said the Prime Minister's proposal on giving G-20 membership to the AU received widespread support and that India's presidency of the grouping is largely aimed at benefiting the Global South including the African continent.

"Our whole document is actually devised on the basis of the meeting the Prime Minister had with the 125 countries in the Voice of Global South Summit. What has come out from there has been the basic premise on which our document [draft leaders' declaration] is based," he said.

“Therefore, one of the key issues has been that the Prime Minister wrote to all the leaders that the African Union should become a permanent member. We have proposed that in the Sherpa meeting,” Mr. Kant said. “I am glad to say that we have had an overwhelming response to this proposal of the Prime Minister of India at the third round of Sherpa meeting,” he added.

The G-20 operates under the principle of consensus and any dissenting voice at the leaders' summit may create difficulties, according to the officials.

Mr. Kant said India's priorities for the summit are sustainable growth, speedy implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), digital transformation and green development among others.

The top negotiator said India's position has been that resources need to be provided to the developing countries both for SDGs and for climate action.

On the issue of "climate justice", he said climate finance is a very critical issue. "If you are trying to be ambitious on climate action, then there has to be a simultaneous action on finance. It can't be that the developed world asks us to be ambitious on climate action and then cuts down on climate finance; that's not possible," he said.

Mr. Kant also pointed out the need for private sector lending to address the challenge.

"And it's not the balance sheet of the multilateral development banks. But the balance sheet of the world has to be used to actually push resources," he said.

Mr. Kant noted that there is no shortage of money in the world. "There are 350 trillion dollars available with the private sector, 150 trillion dollars is available with institutional investors and the private sector with pension funds," he added.

"But they will not invest where the risks are very high. Now the challenge is that you have different risks for different countries," he said while highlighting different interest rates in different parts of the globe.

Delving into challenges facing the developing countries or the Global South, Mr. Kant said the international financial architecture is weighed against emerging markets though the growth is coming from them.

"That growth is coming from emerging markets because of young demographics, whereas there's an ageing population in the Western world and that's happening in the last decade and half," he said.

"The growth in the developed world is coming down and emerging markets' growth is going up. So if emerging market growth is going up because of young demographics, you need more resources to flow to emerging markets," Mr. Kant said.

"But the reverse is happening," he rued.

Mr. Kant indicated that India will push for finding solutions to these issues .

In January, India hosted the Voice of the Global South Summit with an aim to highlight the problems and challenges facing developing countries.

The African Union is considered the top grouping representing the voice of Africa. It has been working towards ensuring the progress and economic growth of African nations. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

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