Editorial : Today is a historic moment for Africa’s economic emancipation

AFCTA Meeting in Kigali

Today, President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo will inaugurate and hand over the secretariat for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to the African Union Commission.

This is another momentous occasion in the annals of Africa’s economic emancipation, and is indeed a moment to be proud of. Ghana committed to donate US$10million for operationalisation of the AfCFTA Secretariat after winning the bid in July 2019 to host it.

Since AfCFTA is expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for production to scale, continental market access, and better reallocation of resources, we are excited by the fact that 44 AU member-states ratified the agreement on 10 May 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda.

Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President and CFO of the African Development Bank Group, observed that the positive outlook for Africa is reinforced by establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to deepen regional integration across the continent and allow the free movement of people and trade across borders, when recently he interacted with Indian investors looking to invest in Africa.

AfCFTA was supposed to be implemented from July 1, 2020, but the outbreak of coronavirus has seen a postponement to January 1 next year.

The AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating establishment of the proposed Customs Union. It will bring together all 55 AU member-states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people.

In terms of number of participating countries, it is set to be the world’s largest free trade area since formation of the World Trade Organisation. Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that the trade deal can boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent through eliminating import duties, and double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.

There is a proposed launch date of January 2021; however, at an expected AU Summit in November, Heads of State will confirm the new launch date.

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