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World leaders descended on Hangzhou, China on September 4 and 5 for the 11th G-20 summit. While the only African country in the G-20 is South Africa, African issues were on the agenda.  Perhaps the biggest commitment came in the summit’s emphasis on African industrialization: Several points in the published communique emphasized industrialization in Africa and other least developed countries (LDC), even launching the “G-20 New Industrial Revolution Action Plan” and “G-20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa and LDCs.” After the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping re-emphasized the G-20’s and China’s (Africa’s biggest trading partner) commitments to African industrialization.

However, skeptics remain. Voice of America reported that the executive director of African Progress Panel, Caroline Kende-Robb, called the G-20’s progress on African issues “disappointing” and emphasized that member countries must now focus on following through on their commitments—a task which has not always been done in the past. While Robert Kappel, president emeritus and a senior researcher at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, lauded Chancellor Merkel’s calls for German leadership in investment on the continent, he similarly found the summit’s outcomes for Africa disappointing. In particular, he stated, “The summit has not tackled the problems of sustainable development, it has no ideas on how to solve the refugee crisis in Africa, it has no ideas of moderating the problems of the climate change, and it has no ideas on how to support Africa’s structural transformation. All the measures taken at the G-20 summit were just oriented towards the development of the G-20 nations, the OECD countries and some other countries.”

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo echoed Kende-Robb’s calls for concrete action in an editorial in Project Syndicate calling for world leaders to focus on four themes: 1) acknowledging the interrelation of energy, climate, and development by ending subsidies of fossil fuels, 2) fighting tax evasion, 3) supporting African agriculture and fisheries, and 4) closing the energy financing gap with support for renewable energy.

Source: Brookings. Africa in Focus 09/09/2016

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