The Group of 20 leading global economies, G20, has welcomed the African Union as a permanent member, marking a powerful recognition of Africa as its more than 50 countries aspire to a more prominent role on the international stage.

Last year, U.S. President Joe Biden rightly called for the permanent integration of the AU into the G20, emphasizing that this advancement was “long-awaited.”

At the G20 summit hosted by India on Saturday, the African Union was officially invited to join the table, following unanimous approval from all members and at the request of the host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He warmly greeted the current President of the AU, Azali Assoumani of Comoros, with a hug.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hugging the President of the AU, Azali Assoumani of Comoros, after the announcement of Africa as a permanent member of G20.

“Félicitations à toute l’Afrique!” Said the Senegalese President Macky Sall, a former AU president and advocate for this membership. Ebba Kalondo, AU spokesperson, noted that the African Union had been advocating for this full membership for seven long years. Until now, South Africa was the only G20 member from the African continent.

This permanent membership in the G20 symbolizes the rise of a continent whose young population of 1.3 billion individuals is expected to double by 2050, representing a quarter of the world’s population.

The 55 AU member states, including the contested Western Sahara, have actively campaigned for significant roles within global organizations that have long embodied a post-war world order now in transition, including the United Nations Security Council. They have also advocated for reforms of the global financial system, including the World Bank and other institutions, to end the situation where African countries are forced to pay more to borrow money, thereby increasing their debt.

Thanks to this full membership in the G20, the AU can now represent a continent hosting the world’s largest free trade area. Additionally, Africa is rich in essential resources for combating climate change, despite contributing the least to global emissions but suffering the most devastating effects.

Recent data shows that the African continent holds 60% of global assets in renewable energy and more than 30% of crucial minerals for low-carbon technologies. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo alone possesses nearly half of the world’s cobalt reserves, a metal essential for lithium-ion batteries, as revealed in a recent United Nations report on Africa’s economic development.