In the face of rising protectionism, trade tensions and economic disintegration in the global scenery, the African continent is at the concluding phase of piecing together the world’s largest free trade agreements. Recall that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was officially unveiled in Rwanda in early 2018 to create a continental free trade zone with the capacity boost trade, spur intra-regional investment and economic development on the African continent. Fundamentally, the AfCTA is conceived to allow the free movement of people, goods and services as well as ease doing business freely across the region, especially among member countries who have signed the agreement.
The above notwithstanding, recent events relating to xenophobic attacks and reprisals, especially between S/Africa and Nigeria, the two largest economies on the continent, questions the efficacy of the AfCTA in achieving the ambitions of the single market. No doubt, the AfCFTA faces the challenge of unifying countries with different socio-economic
characteristics. Countries that are middle-income, lower-income, least-developed, landlocked, small-island, fast-growing, and perhaps countries in conflict are set to be brought under one umbrella. However, beyond the thoroughness of ongoing negotiations, countries involved must put in place policies that would not only enhance labour mobility within the region but also safeguard the lives and property of people across international
Accordingly, for the AfCFTA to achieve its objective of unlocking growth on the continent by opening up access to the 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion on the continent, political will must be in place to create a safe and secure environment for trade and businesses to thrive.
UNITED CAPITAL RESEARCH