The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the world’s largest regional trading agreement has been on the front burner for trade for years. After signing on 54 out of 55 African countries, trading among the nations began on January 1, 2021.
A few observers argued that the beginning of trading for the AfCFTA was rushed and pointed out some of the problems that many of the member nations haven’t solved.
Nigeria, the largest and most populous economy in Africa, doesn’t have the right customs infrastructure to start implementing the agreement’s free trade terms. Only about 34 countries have submitted ratification instruments. Stories of new internet shutdowns remind everyone just how unpredictable it is to do business on the continent.
But it’s not all bad news. Last week, Ghana became the first country to complete an export under the AfCFTA framework. It’s not much but it’s a start which will hope to finally unlock intra-African trade.
In any case, the AfCFTA director-general Wamkele Mene, remains optimistic. On Tuesday, he told journalists that the agreement is on track and that everyone should keep calm and watch it succeed.
Will his assurance smooth over the challenges?