African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 of the African Union — Africa’s own development vision. It was approved by the 18th ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012 which adopted the decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area. This initiative whose immediate implementation would provide quick wins, impact on socio-economic development and enhance confidence and the commitment of Africans as the owners and drivers of Agenda 2063.

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Trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commenced on January 2021. As at 5 February 2021, 36 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification., 36 countries have ratified the AfCFTA agreement.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member States of the African Union. In terms of numbers of participating countries, AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.  It is also a highly dynamic market. The population of Africa is projected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, at which point it will comprise 26 per cent of what is projected to be the world’s working age population, with an economy that is estimated to grow twice as rapidly as that of the developed world.  With average tariffs of 6.1 per cent, businesses currently face higher tariffs when they export within Africa than when they export outside it. AfCFTA will progressively eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, making it easier for African businesses to trade within the continent and cater to and benefit from the growing African market.  Consolidating this continent into one trade area provides great opportunities for trading enterprises, businesses and consumers across Africa and the chance to support sustainable development in the world’s least developed region. ECA estimates that AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.