Originating from an ad hoc sitting of finance ministers over four decades ago, the Group of Seven (G7) comprised of the world’s most industrialised and developed economies, including France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United State of America, the United Kingdom and Canada, has prominently translated into a formal, high profile venue for discussing and coordinating solutions pertaining to global issues, especially in areas of security, trade, economies and climate change among others.
With the global economy requiring strategic relationships between both developed and developing countries in the current age of emerging disruptions, convergence, and new conflicts. South Africa is one of the fastest growing, and the most industrialised economy on the African continent. It has over the recent years been partaking in the G7 Summit as a non-member formal guest. The participation of the country in the annual G7 forums has fostered an enabling environment for the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to highlight concerns pertaining not only to South Africa but also to developing countries and to advocate for the continued global attention for equitable distribution of resources.
Notably, in 2021 the G7 countries invited South Africa to attend the 47th Summit as a recognition of the country’s role in driving the continental response to COVID-19 during the country’s African Union chairship, and the contribution it can make to global progress. Therefore, reflecting on the contribution the country has made; being at the fore of fighting for the African continent to prosper, along with other African member states. It is evident that South Africa has managed to re-position itself towards fostering global relationships to achieve its international, continental, and domestic goals.
Having left a footprint of negotiations through strengthening bilateral relations and urging G7 countries to consider the economic development of the African continent in their global plans. South Africa has through these visits played a pivotal role in laying a foundation for Africa to be seen and embraced as a destination of choice for travel, investment, a place of doing business, and a strategic role-player in the global environment.
The recent decision made by the G7 group not to have any individual state from the African continent to attend the 49th Summit, but to extend an invitation to the AU should be seen as progress made by South Africa and African member states to have one representation that has the continent’s best interest at heart, carrying forward the work that has been initiated by African countries who have been invited in previous years.
For South Africa, the representation of the AU will demonstrate a new dawn, a period of renewal and rebuilding of the African continent at large. Moreover, the participation of the AU is significantly well-positioned to drive what can be referred to as the “continental agenda” for the African continent.