The African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA] has been launched by the African Union through a hybrid event to kick start trading activities among African member countries.

The event which took place on the 1st of January had its physical part in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. Present at the event were H. E. President of the Republic of South Africa and current Chairperson of the African Union, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger and AU Champion of the AfCFTA, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Wamkele Mene the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA and host of others.

In a statement issued from AU, it indicated that the beginning of Trading webinar was organized to celebrate a flash in Africa’s history where an excellent stride in continental integration is being witnessed. They added further that, the webinar was the primary of a series of events which will happen virtually and physically over subsequent few weeks to mark this important occasion in Africa’s fulfillment of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) founding fathers’ dream of a very united and integrated continent.

Current statistics prove that African countries do more business with other countries abroad than with countries on the continent. The AU stated that “the percentage of trade that African countries do with one another may be a mere 16 – 18%. the majority of the continent’s trade is with the remainder of the planet .” it’s equally  incontrovertible fact that acting in their individual capacities, most of those African countries lack the bargaining power to face their grounds and negotiate good deals whilst handling economic giants.

The AfCFTA will help build such power to strengthen the voice of the continent and its policy space within the global market by way of organizing trade activities, creating one marketplace for goods and services on the continent, facilitating the movement of products , services and persons through the removal of existing restrictions, promoting industrial development, value addition and sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth.

Fortunate enough for the progress of this important initiative, all the 54 member states of the AU have already signed the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA in March 2018, in Kigali Rwanda, with 30 countries depositing their instruments of ratification together with H. E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

With a united force of all the 54 African States, the African Continental trade Area will cover a market of about 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3 trillion. this may make the new AfCFT the world’s largest trade area since the formation of the planet Trade Organisation.

According to an earlier report by the planet Bank, the AfCFT presents a serious opportunity for African countries to bring 30 million people out of utmost poverty and to boost the incomes of 68 million others who survive but $5.50 per day. the planet Bank equally acknowledged the very fact that the implementation of AfCFTA would drive $292 billion of the $450 billion in potential income gains.

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