Africa has for long time now flirted with the idea of Pan-Africanism which is aimed at uniting All people of the African continent and African descent all over the world. The idea was carried forth by the freedom fighters which resulted in the formation of the Organization for African Unity and later changed to African Union.
The African Union has been making efforts to ensure that trade among Africans becomes very easy. In 2018 at an extraordinary African Union summit, continental leaders brokered a deal for the African Continental Free Trade Area which is also referred to as the Kigali Agreement. This agreement is the largest free trade area agreement in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
The Kigali Agreement was created by 54 of the 55 African Union Nations. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.
Trade experts are estimating that this is going to boost trade in Africa by 52% and thereby making it possible for the development agenda of the continent to be fully accelerated. This agreement comes into effect on 1st January, 2021.
The agreement has the following general objectives
1. Create a single market, deepening the economic integration of the continent
2. Establish a liberalized market through multiple rounds of negotiations
3. Aid the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment
4. Move towards the establishment of future continental customs union
5. Achieve Sustainable and Inclusive socioeconomic development gender equality and structural transformation within member states
6. Enhance competitiveness of member states within Africa and in the global market
7. Encourage industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security
8. Resolve challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships.
The African Continental Free Trade Area should be given the support it deserves and hope it is going to improve the bilateral and multilateral relationships of the countries on the continent. The development agenda of Africa depends on how much regional trade countries are willing to engage in. This agreement coming into effect next year, the business community should fully explore the opportunities that this agreement is going to bring forth.
Africa needs this and has to make this agreement work at all costs.