How to ensure Africa’s bold free trade area propels industrialisation


Africa’s industrialisation needs a boost. Implemented correctly, the AfCFTA could provide it. Here’s how.

At the Huajian shoe factory in the Eastern Industrial Zone, Ethiopia. Credit: UNIDO.

On 21 March, dozens of African countries agreed to establish what could be a truly transformative trade deal. At a special African Union summit convened in Rwanda, 44 governments signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The majority of the remaining 11 AU member states signed the Kigali Declaration, a promissory note to ratify the AfCFTA. 27 additionally signed a separate AU Protocol on the Free Movement of People.

Africa’s two biggest economies – Nigeria and South Africa – did not sign the AfCFTA…

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