44 African leaders on Wednesday signed onto the world’s largest free trade area at a gathering in Rwanda with countries like Nigeria and Uganda missing out for the mean time.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) with 55 African Union (AU) members would mean the African Union would have a cumulative gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion.
Presidents from countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, Rwanda among others were each called and provided with documents to sign to commit their countries to the deal.
Le moment n’est plus aux hésitations. J’appelle donc tous les États Membres á signer et a ratifier sans délai l’Accord sur la Zone de libre-échange. Notre ambition doit être d’assurer son entrée en vigueur avant la fin de cette année. #AfCFTA2018 #Kigali pic.twitter.com/UpHE6bWnef
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) March 21, 2018
African countries only do about 16 per cent of their business with each other with the African Union hoping to change this trend.
The CFTA is a major project of the AU’s long-term development plan Agenda 2063, which emphasis the need to ease trade and travel across the continent.
Signing: (1) Agreement Establishing the #AfCFTA, (2) Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence & Right of Establishment (3) Kigali Declaration Live @IssoufouMhm @PaulKagame @ https://t.co/zWElBooPQG pic.twitter.com/pZ3OiUXmLp
— African Union (@_AfricanUnion) March 21, 2018
AU member states in January this year agreed to a common air transport market that could drive down air fares, as well as plans for visa-free travel for Africans across the continent.
The latest deal could create thousands of jobs for the continent’s jobless youth.