World leaders gather for a group photo at the start of the G20 Leader's Summit at the Costa Salguero Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture: Ricardo Mazalan/AP
World leaders gather for a group photo at the start of the G20 Leader's Summit at the Costa Salguero Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

G20 failed to address fundamental African matters

By David Monyae Time of article published Dec 5, 2018

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The mood after the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is not one of cheerfulness but rather of tension, discomfort and awkwardness.

With the tectonic shifts in global power dominating the G20 Summit, it’s alarming that the meetings’ communique has far reaching substance that aims to combat injustice and maintains a commitment to sustainability and inclusive growth.

The affluent world leaders in Buenos Aires discussed how they would use their influence and power to push an altruistic agenda. The glaring irony was that none of the people meant to be lifted from the margins were invited to the meeting.

Developing nations most negatively affected by the fluctuations of the global economy were still not privy to plotting their own course in global multilateralism. That privilege was left to the larger economies - responsible for inequality.

The inconspicuous aspect of this annual assembly is the emphasis on global financial safety by a transformed, “Well, hopefully someday”, IMF. It is the very same IMF that keeps poor countries in debt and then implements structural adjustment programmes that keep them dependent. The EU even has a permanent chair to indicate whose interests are being focused on in the affairs of the G20.

While the hot topic of the summit was about Trump and Putin, and Trump and Xi, there were plenty of curtain raisers and sideshows between British prime minister Theresa May and her brand new EU exit deal, the pariah Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The issues on the table did not have much to do with equality, but the continuation of neo-imperialist ideals that saw most of the world’s natural resources end up in the hands of Europeans and Americans.

Now under the guise of aid and development funds, policies to disenfranchise Africans, Asians and South Americans are still pervasive in summits like the G20. Global Citizen on the other hand raised funds to effect lasting and genuine change in the lives of the marginalised.

Currently global multilateral fora such as the G20 speaks to the long held view within the Global South that the post-WW II world order is undemocratic and does not fairly represent the majority of the global population. We therefore expected to witness more global institutions to answer today’s provocative questions of how to bring those on the margins to the centre of global development.

Africa has no time to despair or disengage due to the current global negative outlook of the G20. It must continue advancing its Agenda 2063 with the help of friendly all-weather friend nations of the continent. Africa’s struggle to liberate its people from poverty can be achieved as long as it seeks multilateralism at continental and global level.

Africa expected the G20 to come up with a practical plan to help in its quest to rapidly industrialise and fund massive infrastructure. The African Development Bank estimated that Africa requires $93billion (R1.3trillion)a year to close the infrastructure gap on the continent.

From an African perspective, the G20 failed to address these fundamental African matters. Africa ought to seek closer trade relations within the continent and with those willing to advance multilateralism.

As it stands, President Donald Trump has demonstrated the willingness to withdraw America from the most multilateral forum in which it once held a leadership role. Coupled by what appears to be the disintegration of the EU shown by Brexit, Africa should continue strengthening its relationship with friendly countries in the global South, particularly China, Russia, India and Brazil.

Monyae is the director of the Centre for Africa - China Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

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