President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. AP
The African Union represents the continent's 54 countries. The G-20 is composed of the world's major industrial and emerging economies and represents more than 80% of the world's gross domestic product. South Africa is currently the only African member of the G-20.
``It's past time Africa has permanent seats at the table in international organizations and initiatives,'' the senior director for African affairs on the National Security Council, Judd Devermont, said in a statement Friday. ``We need more African voices in international conversations that concern the global economy, democracy and governance, climate change, health, and security.''
Biden has invited 49 African leaders to take part in the three-day Washington summit that starts Tuesday.
The G-20 representation would allow African countries to more effectively press the group to implement its pledge to help the continent to cope with climate change. The high-profile push for inclusion in the G-20 comes at a time when the AU has shown renewed unity and purpose on some high-profile issues, banding together to combat COVID-19 and establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, which came into force in early 2021.
African Union officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the White House announcement.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, at last month's G-20 gathering in Indonesia, underscored the importance of African Union membership in achieving climate goals.
``We call for continued G-20 support for the African Renewable Energy Initiative as a means of bringing clean power to the continent on African terms,'' Ramaphosa told the gathering. ``This can be best achieved with the African Union joining the G-20 as a permanent member.``
Devermont said the announcement builds on the administration's strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa and its advocacy for adding permanent members from Africa to the U.N. Security Council.