South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed the launch of the operational phase of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which happened on Saturday in Niamey, Niger.
President Ramaphosa said the coming into effect of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) is a milestone that fulfils a dream crafted by the founders of the Organisation of African Union (OAU) 60 years ago when they conceptualised an integrated Africa.
The AfCFTA’s operational phase was launched at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU), which was held from 7 – 8 July 2019.
A statement from the South African presidency said Ramaphosa considered the implementation of the AfCFTA as a platform for African countries to trade among themselves and reap the benefits of the tariff-free area.
The decision to establish the AfCFTA was initially arrived at in the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2012, with a tentative launch date of 2017.
The agreement is expected to create a market for over a billion people, with a GDP of approximately US$2.6 trillion.
Various leaders have hailed the AfCFTA, terming it a game changer in Africa’s trade sector.
During the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government. AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat lauded the agreement as a “remarkable” and “historic” achievement.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on his part said it is “a milestone for our Union.”