The African Union (AU) has been made a permanent member of the G20, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the group's summit in New Delhi on Saturday.
The AU, a continental body of 55 member states, now has the same status as the European Union – the only regional bloc with a full membership. Its previous designation was "invited international organization."
Before his opening speech, Modi greeted AU chair and Comorian President Azali Assoumani.
"India put a proposal to give permanent membership of G20 to the African Union. I believe that we have everyone's agreement on this," Modi said in his opening address to the summit.
"With everyone's approval, I request the African Union head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member," he added, banging a ceremonial gavel.
Assoumani then took his seat among world leaders at the invitation of Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
This is the G20's first enlargement since its inception in 1999.
China has long supported the AU in joining the G20, saying the move will help make the continent speak with one voice on international affairs and elevate its international standing.
The AU represents all the countries on the African continent, and has about 18 percent of the world population and 20 percent of global land area. It has been an active member of the UN, where it has 54 member states.
Africa has vital resources to address energy challenges abroad, and it is also a major supplier of critical raw minerals globally. It has 25 percent of global natural biodiversity, 30 percent of global mineral resources and 45 percent of global renewable energy potential.
The continent remains resilient amidst multiple shocks with average growth projected to stabilize at 4.1 percent in 2023-2024, higher than 3.8 percent in 2022. The 3.8-percent growth in 2022 was above the global average of 3.4 percent.
(With input from agencies)
(Cover: A man walks past a model of G20 logo outside the Finance Ministry in New Delhi, India, March 1, 2023. /Reuters)