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Forty-four Heads of State and government of the African Union (AU), on Wednesday, signed an agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).


Additionally, 45 members signed the Protocol Establishing the African Economic Community―Free Movement of Persons and Right of Residence, while 43 member states signed the Kigali Declaration.


Experts say, the signing and implementation of the treaty on the AfCFTA would result in an increase in intra-African trade by 52 per cent by the year 2022, culminating in substantial improvement in the lives of African people. Ghana's President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign for his country.


The summit, under the theme:“Creating One African Market” which began from March 17 to March 21, 2018, at Kigali, aimed to prioritize goods and services produced in Africa and create a common market, which would, invariably, create job opportunities forthe energized Africa youth.


Additionally, the treaty is expected to increase in intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022, culminating in the substantial improvement of the lives of Africans. It is also, expected to strengthen the unity among member states that symbolizes Africa’s competiveness in the global market space.


Despite the cynicism from some experts, the establishment of the AfCFTA, according to the Chairperson of AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, would result in a unified market of over 1. 2 billion people, with a combined gross product of over US$3 trillion.”


Mr Mahamat gave the assurance that the signing of the trade treaty would open up immense sources of jobs and encourage development prospects that would offer to the continent's youth, jobs and prosperity.


The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, commended the AU and its members for the achievement, and urged them to have the political will to implement the treaty. President Kagame said Africa would be better positioned to leverage its growing strength and unity to secure the continent's rightful interest in the international arena.


“This is not just a signing ceremony. Today's deliberations are critically important as we chart the next step on our journey towards the Africa we want,” he emphasized.


The Trade Treaty, which is a crucial function in African integration, its economic spillover effect, the solidarity and the symbol against other blocs in a world where competition was fierce, would positively impact on the well-being of Africa peoples.


It will be recalled that, at the 30th Ordinary Session of the AU Summit in Ethiopia on the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: a Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” all the 23 members of the Union adopted a Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community―Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and the Right of Establishment and its Draft Implementation Roadmap.


The Assembly decided to hold an extraordinary summit on 21 March, 2018, on the AfCFTA. The meeting was to be preceded by an Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council on 19 March, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, to consider the AfCFTA Legal instruments and sign the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA.


The AfCFTA is a culmination of a vision that was set forth nearly 40 years ago in the Lagos Plan of Action, adopted by Heads of State in 1980. That undertaking led directly to the Abuja Treaty, establishing the African Economic Community in 1991.


President Akufo-Addo has since returned home.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)