The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) was established in 2018, with 54 of Africa's 55 countries signing the agreement after three years of meetings and negotiations. It went into operation during 2019, with trade commencing under its auspices from January 2021 – officially the largest trade agreement in the world, in terms of the number of participating countries, since the World Trade Organisation was formed.
The AfCTA ultimately paves the way for a single continental market for goods and services, as well as allowing for the free movement of people and investments, and in turn, promoting industrialisation, job creation, and improving competitiveness.
It also intends to boost intra- African trade, with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimating that the agreement will boost this by 52 percent, by 2022 alone, connecting 1.3 billion people and having the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty.
The World Bank estimates that it could boost Africa's income by $450 billion by 2035, increases its exports by R560 billion, boost wages for workers, and importantly, stimulate larger wage gains for women.
Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, with South African Wamkele Mene serving as its first Secretary General its scope is significant, including reducing tariffs among member countries, addressing policy areas, regulatory measures and standards, and technical barriers to trade.
Andersen has been monitoring the evolution of AfCTA since the first discussions around its genesis were held in 2015, and is excited for the potential it offers to transform trade on the African continent.
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