Policy & GovernancePoliticsWill The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Meet Its Objectives?

Moses KaramuziFebruary 1, 202376118 min
Factory workers package products in Accra, Ghana. Photo: © Nyani Quarmyne (Panos)/IFC
What You Need to Know About African Continental Free Trade Area.

 Free trade or the free market means the sovereignty of a nation.” Is this the start of a new era in African commerce and economic development ? Is this to say that a businessman may travel freely with his goods from Addis Ababa to Cape Town without being held up at customs because he needs a Visa? This would without a doubt be the best news for any businessman.

On March 21, 2018, African state leaders convened in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign an agreement to encourage intra-African commerce.The African Union (AU) mediated the agreement, which was signed by 44 of the African Union’s 55 member nations. Eritrea, a country with a mainly closed economy, is the only country yet to sign the deal.

A Break Down Of The African Continental Free Trade Area.
A photo by African Union

The African Continent Free Trade Area is a bold trade agreement that aims to create the world’s largest free trade zone by linking almost 1.3 billion people across all African countries. The accord intends to establish a single market for products and services to further Africa’s economic integration. The trading area’s aggregate gross domestic product might be over $3.4 trillion, but realizing its full potential would need considerable policy reforms and facilitation measures across African member nations.

What is The Main Objective Of The African Continental Free Trade Area?

 The African Continental Free Trade Area’s  main objective is to abolish and minimize tariff and non-tariff  trade obstacles among the 54 nations that signed on to the agreement. This is accomplished by creating a single market for goods and services, supported by the free movement of people and things, to integrate and thrive the African continent fully. The African Continental Free Trade Area aspires to fulfill the following goals:

  • Tariffs and non-tariff obstacles to trade in products and services should be gradually eliminated.
  • Progressively liberalize commerce and services.
  • Cooperate on issues such as investment, intellectual property, and competition policy.
  • Cooperate on customs issues and trade facilitation initiatives.
  • Create a framework for resolving disagreements about their rights and duties.
  • Establish and maintain an institutional structure for the African Continental Free Trade Area’s implementation and administration.
Will These Objectives Be Achieved?

Is the African Continental Free Trade Area capable of achieving these goals? Various economists have discussed this, yet no one ever wins or loses. The agreement has been in place for four years when it comes to Africa, but if we look at what has been accomplished in that time, despite the breakout of Covid-19, we can conclude that little or nothing has been achieved.

Photo by African Union

African leaders do their best to set goals and objectives on paper. They are fantastic, in my opinion.

In 1967, East African countries came together. They agreed to broaden and deepen economic, political, social, and cultural integration to improve East Africans’ quality of life by increasing competitiveness, value-added production, trade, and investment.

After 55 years of existence, Rwanda and Uganda are currently experiencing political tensions that have resulted in the closing of borders. Since the closing of both nations’ borders in 2017, more than 6,000 small-scale traders have been negatively impacted, according to the Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiation Institute  (SEATINI). However, as per communication by The Rwandan Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, its stated the Gatuna border between Uganda and Rwanda will be open on the 31st January 2022.

There is a never-ending conflict between Rwanda and Burundi and other issues. What exactly does this imply? This depicts how African leaders gather to sign agreements that establish unattainable aims and ambitions.

The African Union was established in 2002 to promote African unity and solidarity, defend state sovereignty, eradicate colonialism, promote international collaboration, and coordinate and harmonize member states’ policies.

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan are among the 15 nations in Sub-Saharan Africa having ongoing armed conflicts in since 2019.

Is The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement Any Different From Other Integrations Such As EAC & AU?

The same African leaders who signed the previous agreements also signed the African Continental Free Trade Area. The African Continental Free Trade Area will have challenges achieving its goals based on the circumstances outlined above.

African leaders should first stop gun violence and eliminate strife on the continent. Fighting countries are unable to trade with one another openly.

Furthermore, poor governance and corruption, which result in public discontent, would not achieve these goals. These inherent dynamics seems to have been overlooked right from the start. Conflict is currently the most significant impediment to implementing the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

In addition to poverty, inequality, unemployment, climate change, illegal money flows, weak governance, and corruption, there is also poverty, inequality, unemployment, and climate change. The Continent is now dealing with such critical concerns to name but a few. It will be more difficult for the African Continent Free Trade Area to fulfill its objectives if all of these mentioned incumbent obstacles persist.

It is Still Possible.
A photo. African Union 

Whatever agreements African nations have signed, it may be said that some progress has been made. The course of history is shifting. Younger generations are now involved in decision-making. Young African men and women eager to take up the continent on another level are the continent’s future.

Allow those agreements to be signed; in fact, additional deals should be signed. This is, in my opinion, a fantastic move. There is also a chance that the African Continental Free Trade Area will be different from prior agreements that have failed to accomplish their goals. It is not advisable to begin dancing until the music has been played. Let us give the African Continental Free Trade Area a chance before passing our verdict.

Moses Karamuzi

Moses Karamuzi is a goal-oriented young leader who is enthusiastic about transforming the lives of young people through social entrepreneurship skills to lead the socio-economic change of their communities and country. Moses is also a Co-Founder and Associate Director at Myfootprints Institute, where he pursues his mission in the same way. Moses is also passionate about healthcare through assisting the community health leaders in executing national plans to control, eliminate, and prevent the reintroduction of non-communicable diseases such as malaria using effective and reasonable mosquito control approaches, focusing on at-risk populations. He also serves on the representative committee at MasterCard Foundation, representing MasterCard Scholars at African Leadership University. Moses is straightaway pursuing an honors degree in Global Challenges focusing on healthcare and Job creation at the African Leadership University. Moses does writing stories and reads books during in his free time


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