Last week, 44 African countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CFTA) at the tenth African Union Summit. The CFTA could enter into effect by the end of this year.
Rwandan daily The New Times reports that, besides the agreement, which could make Africa the world’s largest free-trade zone, 43 nations signed the Kigali Declaration, while 27 countries agreed to ease mobility of people across the continent by signing the protocol on movement of people across Africa.
Following the signatures, African states will have to ratify the agreement in their respective legislatures.
“The task now is to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, so that they may come into effect as soon as possible,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The New Times reports that the agreement envisions a continental market of 1,2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3,4 trillion.
The agreement is expexted to boost the level of intra-Africa trade from the current 14 percent to more than 52 percent by 2022.
“As we launch the African Continental Free Trade Area, our belief is that Africa is stronger when Africans work together, rather than in a divided and isolated way. This is a strategy that we must pursue vigorously,” said president Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger.
He noted that it would also make the continent an ideal international investment destination as well as serve to strengthen political, economic and commercial commitments with various international partners.