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G-20 Urged to Include Africa in Development Plans

Pub owner Richard Deery awaits customers from the G-20 conference in Brisbane, Australia, Nov. 13, 2014.

When G-20 leaders gather this weekend in Brisbane for their annual summit on global growth and development, they’ll do so amid disappointing trade growth and job creation.

Heads of the Group of 20 leading and developing nations say they will look toward creating new policies to sustain global growth, after five years of recovering from the global economic crisis and restoring financial institution’s credibility and resilience.

The group’s ninth summit will focus on the immediate goal of boosting members’ GDP growth by at least 2 percent. That would add more than $2 trillion to the global GDP while creating millions of jobs.

Much of the recent growth has occurred on the African continent. Yet South Africa is the only permanent member of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies, which account for 85 percent of global GDP and 75 percent of international trade.

Africa seeks support

The fact that only one African country is represented in the G-20 means that Africa’s agenda is not the group’s priority, said Wolfe Braude, new business development and stakeholder manager at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

"What we desperately need is infrastructure, services-sector development, financing for hard infrastructure like ports and roads and railways," Braude said, also citing needed support for building capacity in banking and telecommunications sectors. "And then of course we have health needs. We have our problems in Africa with Ebola."

While the G-20 is focused on stemming job loss and creating new opportunities to spur growth, many of Africa’s problems come from endemic corruption, colossal debt and lack of revenue.

Marianne Buenaventura, governance adviser at the anti-poverty organization Oxfam International, said the G-20 needs to assist developing African countries with tax reform. Africa is losing billions of dollars in unpaid tax, with most of that money illegally moved out of the continent, she said.

"We have about $100 billion estimated of lost revenue due to illicit flows in developing countries," Buenaventura said. "In the sub-Saharan Africa region, there are about estimated $72 billion lost in illicit flows calculated between 2008 and 2010."

'Learn from debate'

Some experts suggest that while global bodies like the G-20 are important, they are not necessarily the solution for African nations.

Vic Van Vuuren, director at the International Labour Organization South Africa, said African nations can seek advice from the G-20 and learn from its successes, but they should not wait for the G-20 to deliver economic development to their doors.

He said it’s unlikely "the G-20 is gonna come up with a solution to the challenges facing many of the African countries, like high unemployment, like [needed] investment.

"What we need to do is learn from that debate, give our input, but bring back some gems that we can implement in Africa by ourselves," Van Vuuren said.