AfCFTA: The long, hard road to one African market

Last week, the African Union published the consolidated text of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), launched in Rwanda on 21 March this year. Most of us who hailed the launch of the AfCFTA and praised those behind it, as I did in this column last week, had not seen the full text of the agreement, but were simply impressed by the emergence of a long-hoped-for intra-Africa free trade zone. But we can now go beyond the symbolism and consider the substance of what was achieved.

The consolidated text is 253-page long and, like all trade agreements, it’s dense, written in specialised language with, for the uninitiated, recondite clauses. Yet this is an important, if somewhat dreary, subject. So, I want to examine the instruments within the bounds of…

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