The historical African Continental Free Trade Area agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, on 21 March by African leaders, at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Upon implementation, the agreement will see the continent having the world’s largest trade zone where goods and services can be traded freely among African Union member states. Of the 55 African Union member states, 44 appended their signatures on the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“We are incredibly proud of our Union as 44 out of 55 member states signed the AfCFTA. [We are proud of] the 43 countries that signed the Kigali Declaration and the 27 that signed the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right to Residence and Right to Establishment, sealing the deal of continental economic integration!” H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission stated.
“It is now time to create a real engine for true prosperity after 55 years of political union. Trade assures the wealth of nations and facilitates integration. Politics and commerce have this opportunity through Continental Free Trade Area to create continental prosperity,” H.E Mahamat also declared a day before at the Business Forum which also took place in Kigali.
The president of Niger, H.E Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, was the first to sign on behalf of his country, followed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
When implemented, the AfCFTA could increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022. In addition, the agreement could bring about the removal of tariffs on 90% of goods and also liberalise services and tackle other barriers which hamper trade between African countries, such as long delays at border posts.
The NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, led his organisation’s delegation to the Summit in Kigali, where he reiterated that the AfCFTA is a positive development, as it indeed leverages the power of business to drive Africa’s Integration.
Through the creation of a single continental market for goods and services, trade will be boosted between African countries, which will also eventually facilitate the free movement of people in the free trade area.
The list of African countries that signed the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly on the Launch of AfCFTA can be downloaded at: https://au.int/en/pressreleases/20180321/list-african-countries-signed-establishment-african-continental-free-trade