The African Free Continental Trade Agreement (AfCTA) is set to come into effect on January, 2021. Trading was initially set for 1st July 2020 but was later extended due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The key objective of AfCTA is to create a continental common market for goods and services that promotes industrial development, and facilitates free movement of people and capital.
In March 2018, the Agreement establishing the AfCTA was signed in Kigali, Rwanda. So far, 54 member states (including Kenya) have signed, and 30 countries have submitted their instruments of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The implementation of the agreement was delayed by Nigeria, which delayed its assent to the agreement. The projected Pan-African Free Trade Zone would have flopped had Nigeria failed to come onboard.
According to the African Union (AU), intra-African trade is expected to go up by at least 52.3 percent under the AfCTA, in comparison to the current situation. This agreement has the potential to bring together 1.3 billion people and generate a GDP of USD 2.5trillion across all the 54 member states. The AfCTA will also enhance competitiveness at both the industry and expertise level through the exploitation of opportunities for scale production.
“Increase in trade is the surest way to deepen regional integration in Africa. “We are now the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization, and we must make it count”, said the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, during a handing over ceremony held in Accra this year. This is where the AfCTA Secretariat was handed over to the African Union.