44 African nations sign pact establishing free trade area: AU


The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CFTA ) could enter into effect by the end of this year following signing by 44 countries yesterday at the 10th extraordinary African Union Summit.

Besides the agreement, which could make Africa the world’s largest free trade zone, 43 nations signed the Kigali Declaration, while 27 countries agreed to ease mobility of people across the continent by signing the protocol on movement of people across Africa.

A total of nineteen presidents were present at the signing while other nations delegated top government officials such as Prime Ministers, Vice Presidents and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of their respective countries.

President Paul Kagame said that the milestone is proof of what is possible when the African states work together.

“Today’s milestone is an indication of how much is possible when we work together. Let’s use the momentum we have gained to push forward with the Agenda 2063 flagship projects that we have committed ourselves to in the first Ten-Year Implementation Plan,” he said.

He said that the development was not the end but the starting of a new phase which, if successfully implemented around can turn the continent’s fortunes.

Following the signatures, African states will have to ratify the agreement in their respective legislatures to put it into effect.

“The task now is to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, so that they may come into effect as soon as possible,” he said.

When the agreement takes effect, Kagame said, it would have impact on the wellbeing of Africans as well as improve the quality of ties with the rest of the world.

The agreement envisions a continental market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product of more than $3.4 trillion.

The agreement will also boost the level of intra-Africa trade from the current 14 per cent to over 52 per cent by 2022.


President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who spearheaded the CFTA adoption process, was the first leader to sign the agreements in Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who has been spearheading the agreement adoption process, said that the deal presents a historic turning point with better days in sight.

“As we launch the African Continental Free Trade Area, our belief is that Africa is stronger when Africans work together; rather than in a divided and isolated way. This is a strategy that we must pursue vigorously,” Issoufou, who was also the first Head of State to sign the agreement, said.

He noted that it would also make the continent an ideal international investment destination as well as serve to strengthen political, economic and commercial commitments with various international partners

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, urged African leaders to get on with the consequent steps to its implementation, saying citizens and businesses were eager for a stronger continent.

“Our peoples, our business community and our youth in particular cannot wait any longer to see the lifting of the barriers that divide our continent, hinder its economic takeoff and perpetuate misery, even though Africa is abundantly endowed with wealth,” Mahamat said.

The African private sector seems eager on the agreement’s implementation and has moved to speed up ratification and implementation.

Speaking on behalf of African Business community, Ali Mufuruki, a Tanzanian billionaire and founder of Infotech Investment Group, said that the private sector is pledging $1 million to raise awareness about the agreement and its importance.


Chad President Idriss Déby Itno signs the instruments at Kigali Convention Centre yesterday. (Courtesy)

President João Lourenço of Angola commits his country during the signing ceremony yesterday. (Courtesy)

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of Central African Republic signs on behalf of his country. (Courtesy)

Comoros President Azali Assoumani signs the agreements in Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

President Denis Sassou Nguesso endorses the instruments at Kigali Convention Centre yesterday. (Courtesy)

The President of Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh signs the agreements in Kigali yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana was among the African leaders who signed the agreements. (Courtesy)

President Adama Barrow of the Gambia inks the deal in the Rwandan capital of Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon signed on behalf of his country at the historic event. (Courtesy)

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is among the leaders who signed all of the three instruments at the AU summit in Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi was among the leaders that endorsed the deals in Kigali yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

President Brahim Ghali of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic represented his country at the signing ceremony. (Courtesy)

President Macky Sall of Senegal also committed his country as leaders took a bold step forward in efforts to create the world’s largest free trade zone. (Village Urugwiro)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa represented his country at the signing ceremony at Kigali Convention Centre yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir also joined his counterparts to seal the continental landmark deals. (Courtesy)

Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz signed on behalf of his country. (Courtesy)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the landmark deals in Kigali. (Courtesy)

African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat delivers his remarks at the extraordinary Heads of State and Government summit in Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

President Kagame delivers his remarks at the opening of the African Union summit in Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

A cross-section of delegates at the summit at Kigali Convention Centre yesterday. Courtesy.

A total of 44 countries signed the historic African Continental Free Trade Agreement in Kigali yesterday. (Courtesy)

The African Union summit, the second of its kind to take place in Rwanda, was held at the Kigali Convention Centre in Kimihurura. (Courtesy)

While up to 19 Heads of State inked the deals in person, more than 20 others delegated senior officials to sign on behalf of their respective countries. (Courtesy)

President Kagame is the current Chairperson of the African Union. The Rwandan leader is also spearheading another effort to reform the Union.  (Courtesy)

First Lady Jeannette Kagame attended yesterday’s African Union summit in Kigali. (Courtesy)

The African Continental Free Trade Area will create a market of a 1.2 billion people. (Courtesy)

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, who championed the CFTA talks, delivers his remarks at the event yesterday. (Courtesy)

Forty-four countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area, 43 inked the Kigali Declaration, while 27 countries adopted the protocol on free movement of persons. (Courtesy)

Students from Nyundo Arts School perform at the AU summit yesterday. (Courtesy)

Delegates chat during the African Union Extraordinary Summit in Kigali. (Timothy Kisambira)

Journalists working at the Media center. (Timothy Kisambira)

Heads of States and delegates arrive for the African Union Extra Ordinary Summit in Kigali. (Timothy Kisambira)

African leaders at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Kigali on Wednesday. Courtesy.

A staff from African Union Secretariat supplies documents to delegates. (Timothy Kisambira)

Students of Nyundo Music School sing the African Union Anthem at the summit. (Timothy Kisambira)

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