Africa makes history, but…

news-image

Abdi Latif Dahir

It is now official: Africa’s free trade agreement has drawn enough signatures to go into operation.

On Tuesday (April 2), The Gambia’s parliament was the 22nd nation to ratify the agreement, the minimum threshold expected to approve the deal among the 55 member states of the African Union. The move posits a major step forward for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was created last March in Rwanda. The trade agreement is set to become operational within a month after the required number of endorsements were deposited with the AU chairperson’s office.

Once in place, the AfCFTA will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion—making it the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization seven decades ago. African leaders hope the agreement will eliminate current high tariffs, generate employment opportunities for a rapidly growing young workforce, and harmonise the work of already-existing regional economic communities. It could also enhance intra-African trade by 52.3% annually, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

“Posterity will recall this day,” the ex-president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, wrote on Twitter. His sentiments were shared by the former executive secretary of UNECA, Carlos Lopes, who wrote, “Africa made it.” Lopes noted that it took the continent a year to operationalise the trade deal, “an absolute record for these type of agreements.”

Trade deals have a reputation for being slow and drawn-out affairs with the European Union-Canada deal, for instance, taking seven years to negotiate after being 22 years in the making.

Yet not all is rosy with the historic free trade agreement. Africa’s largest economy Nigeria — along with Benin and Eritrea — is yet to sign the agreement, presumably due to pressure from trade and labour unions. Only 15 out of the 22 nations that have ratified the agreement have also submitted their ratification documents at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Private sector leaders have also expressed their concern about how the deal will be executed and if governments will be bold enough to move the deal forward.

“The challenges are going to be in the implementation,” Naguib Sawiris, the executive chairman of the Egyptian investment holding, Orascom, said at the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, last week.

In a speech at the same conference, Rwandan president Paul Kagame said making sure AfCFTA succeeds represents “the very highest consequence for Africa’s future”. He acknowledged the role of politics and policy in driving countries and the continent forward, stating that he reached out to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to sign the deal.

“Whatever we try to do, even in terms of economic development, the result comes back to the politics surrounding it,” he said. “If the politics is bad, everything else is bad. That is why open, responsive, and accountable governance is so critical.” – Quartz Africa

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Comments

image

Poachers have broken into Botswana’s p Read more...

10 Aug, 2018 at 01:58 PM

image

In a sign that Botswana is likely to cli Read more...

02 Jul, 2018 at 09:26 AM

image

DAR ES SALAAM - DIRECTIVES on online for Read more...

02 Jul, 2018 at 01:24 PM

image

Gaborone - Poachers have broken into Bot Read more...

04 Feb, 2019 at 07:35 AM

image

SADC leaders meeting in Tanzania this we Read more...

19 Aug, 2019 at 01:51 PM

image

Windhoek - Namibian President Hage Geing Read more...

06 Dec, 2019 at 12:53 PM

image

The new wind of change blowing across Af Read more...

06 Dec, 2019 at 12:50 PM

image

Mashudu Netsianda Elections held in Na Read more...

06 Dec, 2019 at 12:48 PM

image

The prompt arrest and initial court appe Read more...

06 Dec, 2019 at 12:43 PM

image

Johannesburg – The SADC Media Awards a Read more...

06 Dec, 2019 at 12:41 PM

image

Windhoek - Tanzania has been outperformi Read more...

24 Sep, 2018 at 09:29 AM

image

Johannesburg - The year ahead will be ke Read more...

28 Jan, 2019 at 09:44 AM

image

Lusaka - Amid myriad criticisms from soc Read more...

14 Dec, 2018 at 06:28 AM

image

The travelling exhibition “Usakos – Read more...

20 May, 2019 at 02:21 PM

image

Heads of state and ministers who travell Read more...

30 Jul, 2018 at 02:01 PM