African countries that have ratified the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), have been challenged to take advantage of the next commencement date for the implementation of the AfCFTA, and ensure its implementation.
This follows the postponement of the commencement of the implementation from July this year to the first quarter of 2021, due to the impact of the pandemic.
The pan African free trade agreement with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc, is expected to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and should ultimately grow intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization across the continent.
To date, 54 countries have signed the Agreement, and 28 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission.
Speaking to Citi Business News on the postponement of the AfCFTA’s implementation, a Senior Partner at AB & David, and a member of the Afrochampions Initiative, David Ofosu-Dorte, said it is important for the next implementation date to be met.
“We have 28 out of 55 countries who want to form a free trade area. The 28 could have gone ahead. With that 28 we may not start with all that full preparation, but it’s gradual. And you will find that once people begin to see the benefits others will come on board. So whether we are prepared or not, to the extent that they have signed the agreement, deposited their instrument at the Secretariat, and had agreed to the 1st July or let’s say January 2021, those who are ready should just commence and the others will follow.”
David Ofosu-Dorte also cautioned that the opportunity for Africa to redirect the global supply chain to the continent could be slipping away as the world begins to understand the Coronavirus pandemic better.
“With a lot of countries beginning to open their borders gradually, the likelihood of old supply chains being restored is high. We however still have a window of opportunity, but it requires a lot of coordination and strategic thinking and coordinated implementation. Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when many African countries, their debt profile is beginning to show. So we basically stand at a threshold where anything can happen when it comes to the question of redirecting supply chains to Africa.”
Ghana is expected to host the Afcfta Secretariat in Accra.