By Abdul Rahman Suagibu –
NEW AFRICA DAILY NEWS, Freetown, Sierra Leone- African Leaders kick- off operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA in Niamey Niger.
Ratifications of five operational instruments of the AfCFTA were done, with Ghana being selected as the host of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA.
In a statement issued at the end of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government, Africa leaders revealed five operational instruments that will administer the activities of the AfCFTA.
The five operational instruments include;
-Rules of Origin
-Outline negotiating forum
-Monitoring and elimination of non-tariffs barriers
-Digital payments system
-African trade observation.
According to the release, each one was launched by different Heads of State and Government that included President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt who is the current Chairperson of the AU, Mr Moussa Faki Makamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who is the champion of the AfCFTA.
“The speedy entry into force of the AfCFTA is a source of pride for all of us”, said AU Commission Chairperson Mr. Moussa Faki Mohamat.
Nigeria joined signatory to the African Free Trade pact on Sunday after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the landmark document at the AU Summit in Niger. This leaves only Eritrea as of the 55 African countries that are yet to join the pact.
If successful, experts predict a $ 3.4 trillion free trade bloc, leading to jobs and development.
“An old dream is coming true, the founding fathers must be proud,” African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said Sunday while AU chairman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi said “The success of AfCFTA will be the real test to achieve economic growth that will turn our people’s dream of welfare and quality of life into reality”.
It took Seventeen years of bitter and tough negotiations to reach Sunday’s milestone, which experts say could boost trade among African nations by 60% in just three days.
But those experts also understand that the continent is facing many challenges, including unreliable or non-existent roads and rail lines, unrest, corruption and deeply entrenched bureaucracies.
By integrating economics and reducing such trade barriers as tariffs, the pact aims to increase employment prospects, living standards and opportunities in Africa, and to make Africans competitive regionally and globally the more.
Nigeria’s willingness to sign the pact, along with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreement last week to adopt a common currency will help boost trade throughout the continent, says Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the U.N Secretary General Special Representative and Head of the U.N Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).
“The continental free trade area will to a larger extent also reinforce regional free trade areas,” Chambers told members of the press. “And this where a common currency comes in. If you have a free trade area and it is matched also by a regional common currency, the impact of course will be to boost both free trade and easy commerce within the area”
The African free trade zone has been under discussion since 2002, with a draft deal signed in early 2018. In May, it surpassed a threshold of ratification by at least 22 member countries’ legislatures.
For New Africa Daily News Abdul Rahman Suagibu Reports, Africa Correspondent