African Continental Free Trade Area

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)[1] is a planned free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 49 of the 55 African Union nations.[2] If the agreement is ratified, the free-trade area will be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.[3]

The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.[4][5] The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.[4] The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.[6] The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.[4]

Map of the planned African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
  Ratifying parties
  Signed March 2018, not ratified
  Signed July 2018, not ratified


Initial planning for the agreement began in 2013,[7] with negotiations held in 2015 via AU summits.[8]

The first negotiation forum was held in February 2016 and held eight meetings until the Summit in March 2018 in Kigali. From February 2017 on the technical working groups held four meetings, where technical issues were discussed and implemented in the draft. On 8-9 March 2018 the African Union Ministers of Trade approved the draft.[9]

At the extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union on 21 March in Kigali the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area was signed, along with the Kigali Declaration and the Protocol of Free Movement. Other countries who signed the Kigali declaration, including South Africa and Namibia, are expected to sign the agreement during the AU summit in July.[10]

Negotiations continued in 2018 with Phase II, including policies of investment, competition and intellectual property rights.[11] In January 2020, AU Assembly negotiations are envisaged to be concluded.[12]

South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Lesotho and Burundi have since signed the AfCFTA during the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott.[13]


Several institutions will be created when the AfCFTA comes into force. According to the results of Phase I negotiations the following institutions will be established to facilitate the implementation of the free trade area. As a result of Phase II negotiations more committees may be established via protocols.[14]

AfCFTA secretariat

The secretariat will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement and shall be an autonomous body within the AU system. Though it will have independent legal personality, it shall work closely with the AU Commission and receive its budget from the AU. The Council of Ministers responsible for trade will decide on the location of the headquarter, structure, role and responsibilities.[11]

Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government

The Assembly is the highest decision-making body. It is likely to meet during the AU Summits.[15]

Council of Ministers responsible for trade

The Council provides strategic trade policy oversight and ensures effective implementation and enforcement of the AfCFTA Agreement.[15]

Committee of Senior Trade Officials

The Committee of Senior Trade Officials implements the Council’s decisions. The Committee is responsible for the development of programs and action plans for the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.[15]

Dispute Settlement Body

Its rules and procedures will be laid down in the Protocol on Dispute Settlement, which is to be negotiated.[11]


Several Committees will be established through protocols to assist with the implementation of specific matters. It is already agreed to establish committees for trade in goods, trade in services, on rules of origin, trade remedies, non-tariff barriers, technical barriers to trade and on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.[15]


The African Continental Free Trade Area does not come into effect until 22 of the signing countries ratify the agreement. As of April 2019, 22 countries had ratified the agreement after Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify it.[16][17]

Prospective members

Most AU member states signed the initial agreement, including:

Benin, Botswana, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, and Zambia did not sign the initial agreement.[18] President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari was particularly reluctant to join if it hurt Nigerian entrepreneurship and industry.[19]

Human Rights Assessment

An interdisciplinary team[20] carried out a human rights assessment of the agreement as the negotiations were underway. This assessment was mandated by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Friedrich Ebert Stifting. The full report of its findings were published in July 2017.[21] So was a Policy Brief[22] which sets out its main recommendations was shared with African countries' officials during the following negotiating sessions.

See also


  1. ^ Loes Witschge (March 20, 2018). "African Continental Free Trade Area: What you need to know". Al Jazeera.
  2. ^ "Summary of the key decisions and declarations of the 31st African Union Summit | African Union". Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  3. ^ Justina Crabtree (March 20, 2018). "Africa is on the verge of forming the largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization". CNBC.
  4. ^ a b c "Forty-four African countries sign a free-trade deal". The Economist. March 22, 2018.
  5. ^ "44 African nations sign pact establishing free trade area". Arab News. March 21, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  6. ^ Witschge, Loes (March 20, 2018). "African Continental Free Trade Area: What you need to know". Al-Jazeera.
  7. ^ "Meeting of the Continental Task force on the Continental free Trade area (CFTA), 17-18 October 2013, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia". African Union. October 18, 2013.
  8. ^ "The African Union Assembly launches the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations". African Union. June 17, 2015.
  9. ^ tralac, trade law centre. "African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Legal Texts and Policy Documents". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "SA keen to sign agreement establishing AfCFTA". SAnews. March 26, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "African Continental Free Trade Area - Questions & Answers" (PDF). African Union. March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  12. ^ "Decision on the draft agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)" (PDF). African Union. March 21, 2018.
  13. ^ "More countries sign the African free trade area agreement". The East African. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  14. ^ Erasmus, Gerhard (March 22, 2018). "How will the AfCFTA be established and its Legal Instruments be implemented?". tralac Discussion. trade law centre. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d Chidede, Talkmore (March 15, 2018). "The legal and institutional architecture of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area". tralac Discussion. trade law centre. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  16. ^ Africa Free Trade Agreement Gets Last Ratification From Gambia, African Business Magazine
  17. ^ Miller, Joshua (April 6, 2019). "Africa in the news: African Continental Free Trade Agreement updates, Algeria's president resigns, and Vodacom Tanzania executives face criminal charges". Brookings. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  18. ^ Uwiringiyimana, Clement (March 21, 2018). "Nigeria keen to ensure Africa trade bloc good for itself: president". Reuters.
  19. ^ Giles, Chris (March 22, 2018). "44 African countries agree free trade agreement, Nigeria yet to sign". CNN.
  20. ^ Caroline Dommen, Kimberley Burnett, Chris Changwe Nshimbi and James Thuo Gathii.
  21. ^ Report: the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in a human rights perspective. July 2017. ISBN 9783958618596.
  22. ^ Building a Sustainable and Inclusive Continental Free Trade Area - Nine Priority Recommendations from a Human Rights Perspective

External links

African Continental Free Trade Agreement

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a trade agreement between 49 African Union member states, with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single-currency union.

The AfCFTA was signed in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018. Ratification by 22 countries is required for the agreement to enter into force and the African Continental Free Trade Area to become effective. The agreement will function as an umbrella to which protocols and annexes will be added.

Negotiations continued in 2018 with Phase II, including Competition Policy, Investment and Intellectual Property Rights. A draft shall be submitted for the January 2020 AU Assembly.Kenya and Ghana were the first countries to deposit the ratification instruments on 10 May 2018 after ratification through their parliaments. With ratification by the Gambia on 2 April 2019, the threshold of 22 ratifying states for the free trade area to formally exist was reached, though as of 3 April 2019 seven of the ratifying states had yet to submit their ratification documents to the African Union.

African Union

The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa, with exception of various territories of European possessions located in Africa. The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa. The intention of the AU is to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments. The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa.

The African Union has an area of around 29 million km2 (11 million sq mi) and includes popular world landmarks, including the Sahara and the Nile. The primary languages spoken include Arabic, English, French and Portuguese and the languages of Africa. Within the African Union, there are official bodies such as the Peace and Security Council and the Pan-African Parliament.

Cyril Ramaphosa

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (born 17 November 1952) is a South African politician and the fifth and current President of South Africa. He became President following the resignation of Jacob Zuma. Previously an anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader, businessman, and partly communist, Ramaphosa served as the Deputy President of South Africa from 2014 to 2018. He was elected President of the African National Congress (ANC) at the ANC National Conference in December 2017. He is also the former Chairman of the National Planning Commission, which is responsible for strategic planning for the future of the country, with the goal of rallying South Africa "around a common set of objectives and priorities to drive development over the longer term".He has been called a skillful negotiator and strategist who acted as the ANC's Chief Negotiator during South Africa's transition to democracy. Ramaphosa built up the biggest and most powerful trade union in the country – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). He played a crucial role, with Roelf Meyer of the National Party, during the negotiations to bring about a peaceful end to apartheid and steer the country towards its first fully democratic elections in April 1994. Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela's choice for future president. Ramaphosa is well known as a businessman, and his estimated net worth is over R6.4 billion ($550 million) as of 2018, with 31 properties and previously-held notable ownership in companies such as McDonald's South Africa, chair of the board for MTN and member of the board for Lonmin.

Despite his credentials as an important proponent of his country's peaceful transition to democracy, he has also been criticised for the conduct of his business interests although he has never been indicted for illegal activity in any of these controversies. Controversial business dealings include his joint venture with Glencore and allegations of benefitting illegally from coal deals with Eskom which he has staunchly denied, during which Glencore was in the public spotlight for its tendentious business activities involving Tony Blair in the Middle East; his son, Andile Ramaphosa, has also been found to have accepted payments totalling R2 million from Bosasa, the security company implicated in corruption and state capture by the Zondo commission; and his employment on the board of directors of Lonmin while taking an active stance when the Marikana Massacre took place on Lonmin's Marikana premises. On 15 August 2012 he called for action against the Marikana miners' strike, which he called "dastardly criminal" conduct that needed "concomitant action" to be taken. He later admitted and regretted his involvement in the act and said that it could have been avoided if contingency plans had been made prior to the labour strike.

Foreign relations of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

The foreign relations of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) are conducted by the Polisario Front, which maintains a network of representation offices and embassies in foreign countries.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is the government in exile claiming sovereignty of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara. The Polisario Front, the national liberation movement that administers the SADR, currently controls the area that it calls the Liberated Territories, a strip of Western Sahara territory east of the Moroccan Wall. It also administers the Sahrawi refugee camps at Tindouf, Algeria, where its headquarters are. It has conducted diplomatic relations with states and international organisations since its inception in 1973. In 1966, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 22/29 affirmed for the first time the Sahrawi right on self-determination. In 1979, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 34/37 reaffirmed again the right of the Western Sahara people to self-determination and independence, recognising also the Polisario Front as the representative of the Western Sahara people.

Human Rights Impact Assessment

Human Rights Impact Assessment is a process for systematically identifying, predicting and responding to the potential human rights impacts of a business operation, capital project, government policy, or trade agreement. It is designed to complement a company or government’s other impact assessment and due diligence processes and to be framed by appropriate international human rights principles and conventions. It is also rooted in the realities of the particular project by incorporating the context within which it will operate from the outset, and by engaging directly with those peoples whose rights may be at risk.Conducting a Human Rights Impact Assessment is an integrated part of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), which is the "authoritative global standard on the respective roles of businesses and governments in helping [to] ensure that companies respect human rights in their own operations and through their business relationships."

List of international presidential trips made by Cyril Ramaphosa

This is a list of international trips made by Cyril Ramaphosa while President. Ramaphosa made his first international trip as the President of South Africa to Luanda, Angola.

List of multilateral free-trade agreements

This is a list of multilateral free-trade agreements, between several countries all treated equally. For agreements between two countries, between a bloc and a country, or between two blocs, see list of bilateral free-trade agreements; these are not listed below.

Every customs union, common market, economic union, customs and monetary union and economic and monetary union is also a free-trade area; these are listed on these separate articles and are not included below.

For a general explanation, see free-trade area.

Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame (; born 23 October 1957) is a Rwandan politician and former military leader. He is currently the President of Rwanda, having taken office in 2000 when his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned. Kagame previously commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was considered Rwanda's de facto leader when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence from 1994 to 2000. He was re-elected in August 2017 with an official result of nearly 99% in an election criticized for numerous irregularities. He has been described as the "most impressive" and "among the most repressive" African leaders.Kagame was born to a Tutsi family in southern Rwanda. When he was two years old, the Rwandan Revolution ended centuries of Tutsi political dominance; his family fled to Uganda, where he spent the rest of his childhood. In the 1980s, Kagame fought in Yoweri Museveni's rebel army, becoming a senior Ugandan army officer after Museveni's military victories carried him to the Ugandan presidency. Kagame joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda in 1990. RPF leader Fred Rwigyema died early in the war and Kagame took control. By 1993, the RPF controlled significant territory in Rwanda and a ceasefire was negotiated. The assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana set off the genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Kagame resumed the civil war, and ended the genocide with a military victory.

During his vice presidency, Kagame controlled the national army and maintained law and order, while other officials began rebuilding the country. Many RPF soldiers carried out retribution killings. Kagame said he did not support these killings but failed to stop them. A small number of these soldiers were later put on trial. Hutu refugee camps formed in Zaire and other countries. These camps were given food and medical aid by several western governments and aid agencies. The RPF attacked the camps in 1996, forcing many refugees to return home, but insurgents continued to attack Rwanda. The attack on the refugee camps killed an estimated 200,000 people. As part of the invasion, Kagame sponsored two controversial rebel wars in Zaire. The Rwandan- and Ugandan-backed rebels won the first war (1996–97), installing Laurent-Désiré Kabila as president in place of dictator Mobutu and renaming the country as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The second war was launched in 1998 against Kabila, and later his son Joseph, following the DRC government's expulsion of Rwandan and Ugandan military forces from the country. The war escalated into a conflict that lasted until a 2003 peace deal and ceasefire.

As president, Kagame has prioritized national development, launching a programme to develop Rwanda as a middle income country by 2020 (Vision 2020). As of 2013, the country is developing strongly on key indicators, including health care and education; annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year. Kagame has had mostly good relations with the East African Community and the United States; his relations with France were poor until 2009. Relations with the DRC remain tense despite the 2003 ceasefire; human rights groups and a leaked United Nations report allege Rwandan support for two insurgencies in the country, a charge Kagame denies. Several countries suspended aid payments in 2012 following these allegations. Kagame is popular in Rwanda and with some foreign observers; human rights groups accuse him of political repression. He won an election in 2003, under a new constitution adopted that year, and was elected for a second term in 2010. Kagame was elected again in 2017, and due to yet another change in the constitution, he could potentially be President until 2034. His role in the assassination of exiled political opponents has been controversial.

Single African Air Transport Market

The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a project of the African Union to create a single market for air transport in Africa. Once completely in force, the single market is supposed to allow significant freedom of air transport in Africa, advancing the AU's Agenda 2063.Primarily, the goal of the SAATM is to fully implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision. This means that all participants agree to lift market access restrictions for airlines, remove restrictions on ownership, grant each other extended air traffic rights (first through fifth freedoms, not affecting cabotage rights), and liberalise flight frequency and capacity limits. Both passenger and cargo aviation are included. It also seeks to harmonise safety and security regulations in aviation, based on ICAO requirements. Oversight over the SAATM is exercised by the African Union, its Regional Economic Communities and dedicated sub-institutions for supervision and dispute settlement.

Trade in the East African Community

African nations have been riddled with poverty since they have gained their independence. Countries of the East African Community (EAC) have had no different fate. These countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. These nations fall below par in different measures of economic activities such as GDP per capita, population below poverty line, unemployment, and trade. The East African Community has made an effort to bolster trade through enhancing co-operation economically, socially, and politically within the member nations. "The aim of EAC is to gradually establish among themselves a Customs Union, a Common Market, a Monetary Union, and ultimately a Political Federation of the East African States." East African Community countries also have active trade to other parts of the world, like the European Union. Each country is a part of the World Trade Organization except for South Sudan who remains out of this conglomeration.

As of 2014, these six countries have a combined GDP of $159.5 billion, GDP per capita of $918, total population of 168.5 million, total import $40.2 billion, and total export $13.6 billion. These countries become much stronger as a part of the community as they become a larger market for trade outside of the bloc. Also, the bloc allows for free trade between the member countries helping not only producers who have more options to sell their product but also consumers who have more cheap goods.

Tripartite Free Trade Area

The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) is a proposed African free trade agreement between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC).On June 10, 2015 the deal was signed in Egypt by the countries shown below (pending ratification by national parliaments).

On June 15, 2015 at the 25th African Union Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, negotiations were launched to create an African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017 with, it was hoped, all 54 African Union states as members of the free trade area.

Vera Songwe

Vera Songwe is an Economist and Banking executive from Cameroon who has worked for the World Bank since 1998, and in 2015 became Western and Central Africa's regional director for the International Finance Corporation. Vera Songwe is the first woman to head the U.N.s Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the level of Under Secretary-General.


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