"Africa, you must have your seat, you must have a fair place within international finance institutions. There is not a single African country that is a permanent member of the the UN Security Council," he said.
"Within the IMF developing countries must have a seat and a much more important role to play."
Sarkozy also delivered a robust defence of European commitment to meeting UN-set aid targets - most notably that 0.7 per cent of gross national income should be donated by developed countries annually by 2015.
The 0.7 per cent target was originally set in the 1970s and is now enshrined in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"Within the European Union (EU), we are all facing growing difficulties, increasing unemployment ... but we decided not to sacrifice the Millennium Development Goals and try to live up to the promises made in terms of official development aid (ODA).
"And that promise is a real one because, right now, about 60 per cent of ODA comes from Europe."
His comments could be interpreted as a rebuke to activists who have criticised developed nations for lacking commitment to development goals - including many European states - because they did not send heads of government to the conference.
On Europe's behalf
Throughout his speech the French leader, who is also the current holder of the EU presidency and the only G8 leader at the summit, underlined he was speaking on behalf of Europe.
The conference was officially opened by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, who warned that developed nations "have no right to dictate to others what they should do".
The emir also said that oil-producing states, like Qatar, often "have the feeling that there are some attempts to put the whole burden of development" on them, and cautioned that aid expectations should not exceed individual state's capabilities.
Aid agencies and developing nations are warning of a humanatarian catastrophe if aid levels drop dramatically - as has happened in the past - because of the financial crisis.
Justin Lin, the World Bank's chief economist and head of delegation at the summit, has already urged industrialised nations to maintain aid delivery as it estimates the economic downturn will see private capital flows into developing countries drop from $1 trillion in 2007 to half that in 2009.
"The global financial crisis is likely to set back the fight against poverty and progress toward the MDGs," said Lin.
"Sharply tighter credit conditions and slower economic growth may affect investment in education, health, women's empowerment and undo many of the hard-won gains in recent years."
The UN summit has been convened to measure progress made on the landmark 2002 Monterrey Consenus that established key development principles. The conference formally ends on December 2.