By Raphael Oni
The number of countries that have ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is approaching 40 with the continent’s leadership showing immense political will towards achieving its aspirations. As you are well aware that January 1, 2021, the AfCFTA official came alive.
His Excellency Albert Muchanga, Trade Commissioner, African Union Commission’s (AUC), said during an Invest in Africa webinar recently said that five countries had indicated their intention to ratify the agreement soon, joining the 35 nations that have already ratified and deposited their instruments.
In his words, “Right now I’ve got firm assurances from Zambia, Tanzania, Somalia, Algeria and Morocco that in due course they would deposit their instruments of ratification,”.
The agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019, a year and one month after the treaty was signed, having been ratified by 22 countries – the minimum number required for the treaty to take effect, said Mr. Muchanga, who attributed the achievement to “a lot of very high political commitment from the heads of state and government.”
Trading commenced on 1 January this year after it was postponed for six months last year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AfCFTA treaty has been signed by 54 out of 55 countries, leaving Eritrea as the sole outsider to date.
The agreement aims to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential that brings together more than 1.2 billion people with a GDP of over $2.5 trillion and usher in a new era of development.
Through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has been working with the AUC and member states to deepen Africa’s trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development.
The ECA also works closely with the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union (EU) to support the implementation of the AfCFTA across the continent.