The African Union formally took its seat as a new member of the G20 at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The expansion of the bloc is a notable diplomatic victory for Modi, who faces national elections next year and has used hosting rights for this year's forum to burnish his image as an international statesman.
Before his opening speech, Modi greeted the African Union chair and Comoros President Azali Assoumani with a warm hug.
"India put a proposal to give permanent membership of G20 to the African Union. I believe that with we have everyone 's agreement on this," Modi said in his opening address to the summit.
"With everyone's approval, I request the African Union head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member," he added, banging a ceremonial gavel.
Assoumani then took his seat among world leaders at the invitation of India's foreign affairs minister S Jaishankar.
Finding consensus among members has been increasingly difficult in recent years with deep divisions on the Ukraine war.
"The world has a huge crisis of trust," Modi said in his opening remarks.
"War has made this trust deficit deeper. If we can defeat Covid, we can also conquer this mutual trust crisis."
Modi addressed the delegates from behind a nameplate that listed his country not as India but as “Bharat,” an ancient Sanskrit name championed by his Hindu nationalist supporters.
The announcement came as Modi opened the weekend summit of the G20, one that comes as growing global rifts and the absence of key players threatened to make reaching consensus on the thorniest issues elusive.
There was widespread support, however, for adding the AU to the G20, making it the se cond regional bloc to become a permanent member after the European Union.
Modi has made giving voice to the Global South a centrepiece of this year’s summit, and adding the AU at the outset was a strong step in that direction.