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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 09:29

First Annual G20 Conference "Africa and the G20: A Critical Assessment"

Written by Clarence Siziba
Participants at the G20 conference are interviewed by the press in attendance Participants at the G20 conference are interviewed by the press in attendance

The first Annual "G20 and Africa" Conference was hosted on 10 December 2012 by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and the International Development Law Unit in the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (UP).

This conference was organised as part of SAIIA and UP’s Global Economic Governance (GEG) Project, which seeks to ensure that African interests are understood and effectively represented in the various global forums that debate and set rules in global economics, markets and institutions.

South Africa is the only African member of the G20, the leading forum for international economic co-operation. As the sole African voice, South Africa has the opportunity to promote both regional African and national South African interests when economic rules are debated and set.

The conference interrogated some of the policy issues that the G20 deals with, how these intersect with Africa’s interests and how the G20 can support Africa.

Speakers include representatives from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the African Development Bank (AfDB). As Russia has the presidency of the G20 next year (2013), delegates also heard from a representative of the Russian Embassy.

Two critical assessment studies on the G20’s financial regulation and food security agenda were presented, with a view to evaluating the implementation and impact of G20 decisions on these matters, particularly in relation to Africa's interests and concerns. These critical assessments will be conducted on an annual basis to build a repository of G20 analysis, and allow for trends forecasting.

The delegates agreed that discussions regarding the G20 should not just revolve around what the G20 can do for Africa. Rather, Africa’s agency should be emphasised in this group. The question should be: what can Africa do to leverage its position in the G20?

Despite the fact that South Africa is the only African member of this body, G20 decisions have far-reaching implications for the welfare of people across the African continent. In light of this, the attendance of African and German partners from the GEG Project was an important aspect of the conference, as was their input during the discussions.

The Conference Report and the key presentations made are below:


Media present at the conference included reporters from as far afield as Egypt and Liberia, which will facilitate dissemination throughout Africa of the ideas and problems raised at the conference. Read some of the articles below:

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