Forty-four African countries have signed up to a historic trade agreement aimed at paving the way for a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an agreement cast in the mold of the European Union’s version was signed during the 10th Ordinary Session of African Union Heads of State summit held in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
The AfCFTA gives birth to the world’s largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization which was formed in 1995.
A total of nineteen presidents were present whiles a number of Prime Ministers and government representatives also signed for their respective countries. Kenya’s cabinet has since ratified the agreement.
Nigeria, South Africa and Botswana say they are still holding consultations on the feasibility of signing up for the deal as per their own local trade rules.
In remarks during deliberations, host and current African Union (A.U.) president, Paul Kagame said: “This agreement is about trade in goods and services. These are the kinds of complex products that drive high income economies.”
Under the theme: “Creating One African Market,” the initiative falls under the Agenda 2063 of the A.U. According to estimates, if all 55 members states of the AU ratify it, the agreement will bring together 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 2 trillion US Dollars.