We have a lot to bring to G-20 table, says African Union chief Azali Assoumani

Ahead of AU’s entry into the grouping, Assoumani urges member countries to invest in industrialisation in Africa; calls for an end to Ukraine war that has created “insecurity all over the world”

Updated - September 08, 2023 10:03 pm IST

Published - September 08, 2023 09:10 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Chairperson of the Africa Union Azali Assoumani in an interview with The Hindu in New Delhi on September 8, 2023.

Chairperson of the Africa Union Azali Assoumani in an interview with The Hindu in New Delhi on September 8, 2023. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The African Union (AU) is confident of becoming a full member of G-20 during the Delhi summit beginning in New Delhi on September 9, said AU Chairperson Azali Assoumani.

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, Mr. Assoumani, who is also the President of Comoros, said member countries of G-20 should invest in industrialisation of Africa. Assuring the members that Africa is willing to do what it takes to deal with the immigration issue being faced by the European countries, he urged the G-20 economies to utilise African resources to manufacture products in Africa. 

G-20 Summit Delhi 2023 Live Updates

“Since I became the chair of the African Union, we have held several rounds of conversation with the G-20 members to make African Union a member of the G-20 and we have seen a lot of support from them for our membership. We are hopeful that we will become a G-20 member tomorrow [Saturday]. We are hopeful that we can work together and we have a lot to bring to the table of G-20,” said President Assoumani.

‘World has to step in’

He pointed out that Africa is facing problems like drought and  conflicts but to find a lasting solution, the economic issues of Africa have to be dealt with. “Our main priority is to achieve industrialisation. We held a conference recently in Niger to discuss this priority. We have a lot of resources in Africa but unfortunately we do not process them in the continent and that is why it is important for us to work with organisations like G-20 so that they can invest in Africa and process and produce goods in Africa.” Africa’s problems can be solved by African countries but the world also has to step in with investments and supplies to ensure that the necessary goals are met, he added. 

“We have drought and floods in Africa that lead to famines, but if we can manufacture in Africa then we can deal with famines very easily. For that we have to talk to our partners because in the coming two decades, Africa will be a very big market,” said President Assoumani.

The topmost official of the African Union also said that “Africa must find a solution” to the immigration crisis that is a major issue for Europe.  “It is the duty of Africa to ensure job security in the continent so that our youth will remain on our continent and find the jobs that they require. But we also have to work hand in hand with Europe, and Europe will have to help us train our people. In  Comoros, it is our priority to train young people so that they can find employment when they go abroad,” said President Assoumani. 

Ukraine conflict

He also said that the African Union has been discussing ways to deal with the fallout of the Ukraine war, which has hit supplies of agricultural products and fertilizers to Africa. Calling for an end to the violence, he said: “What is happening in Ukraine is a violation of the UN Charter. There is insecurity all over the world and this war is not setting a good example. The war in Ukraine has food and security consequences for us. We have been to Kyiv and Russia and met with President Zelenskyy and President Putin but unfortunately the conflict is still raging.”

“We have authorised the Foreign Ministers of South Africa and Russia to report to us the position of the conflict and hopefully we will resume our negotiations soon,” said President Assoumani.

Rice export ban

Flagging the ban on export of rice imposed by India during July and August, he said the food situation in Africa requires India to step in by ensuring supplies as there is a crisis-like situation in multiple African countries. “We are planning to talk to the Indian authorities as we depend on Indian rice. India has a lot to provide to Africa like capacity building. Africa needs partners who understand us and India is one such country,” said President Assoumani.  

“We are talking within our government in Comoros so that our importers can find a solution with the help of the Indian government,” he said. 

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