|Overview : |
The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on 21st March 2018, is a key milestone in Africa’s regional integration. The Agreement includes the Protocol on Trade in Goods, the Protocol on Trade in Services and the Protocol on Rules and Procedures for Settlement of Disputes. These protocols are being negotiated under Phase 1 of AfCFTA implementation. The Agreement also encompasses Protocols on Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property Rights, which will be negotiated under Phase 2.
The AfCFTA agreement, due to be implemented in 2021, has the potential of becoming an engine of economic growth, industrialization and sustainable development in Africa contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063: “The Africa We Want”. However, for the AfCFTA to deliver on the expected outcomes, priority actions need to be undertaken in the short to medium run.
First, countries need to ratify the AfCFTA agreement. To secure the ratification of the Agreement, Member States will need to build the evidence and the consensus on the overall benefits of AfCFTA for their countries, as well as identify the complementary policies and government interventions in areas such as industrialization, domestic resource mobilization, infrastructure, competition, investment and intellectual property rights that can help fully reap the benefits of AfCFTA implementation. Second, there is a need to build on the political momentum behind the AfCFTA to support policy reforms that are aimed at implementing the Agreement as well as the required domestication. In this regard, it is critical for member States to undertake deliberate actions and deploy necessary efforts through national AfCFTA strategies with a view to maximize the benefits of the Agreement while minimizing potential adverse effects. The strategies should be complemented by an effective monitoring and evaluation framework that will track progress on the implementation of the Agreement.