The G20 group of important industrialized and emerging countries accepts the African Union (AU) as a member. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this on Saturday at the opening of the G20 summit in New Delhi. India currently chairs the group of states.

“In agreement with all of you, I would like to invite the Chairman of the African Union to take his seat as a permanent member of the G20,” Modi said. Comoros President and current AU chair Azali Assoumani walked up to Modi and hugged him.

The Indian head of government is trying to profile his country as the leader of the global south. For him, the admission of the African Union is therefore an important success of the summit.

Until now, the European Union with its 27 member states was the only regional organization that is a member of the G20. The AU includes all internationally recognized African countries as well as the controversial country of Western Sahara under international law. There are 55 states in total.

Von der Leyen: It’s a joy

The AU represents the interests of around 1.3 billion people and has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world. It is estimated that Africa could have a population of around 2.5 billion by 2050. Only around 450 million people live in the EU.

EU Council President Charles Michel and the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the decision. “It is a pleasure to welcome the African Union as a new G20 member,” said von der Leyen.

In addition to the EU, the G20 group already includes 19 of the world’s strongest economies. It is a central forum for international economic cooperation, but now also deals with many other global issues – from the fight against terrorism to climate protection and war. Against the backdrop of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, it is one of the few remaining forums where the West and Russia meet directly.