By John Ikani
38 countries have ratified the agreement establishing the Africa Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA.
This was made known by AfCFTA’s Secretary General Mr Wamkele Mene during an interview with journalists in Abuja.
According to him, there is an expectation for other countries to also carry out the ratification.
He said: “in ratifying an International instrument, the domestic process has to be followed, including political processes. They must be followed so that a particular country can be in a state of readiness to ratify.
“There are countries that are ready with a custom infrastructure that is required to trade in a commercial and meaningful sense. South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya; these are countries that have introduced the necessary customs procedures for the trading to start happening.
“We are in the initial stages of implementation, we are also still negotiating outstanding areas of phase one, you will remember that phase one is trading goods and trading services while phase two which we would start soon around July/ August is Intellectual property rights, Competition policy, Women in trade and Digital trade.
These are the new generation trade issues that would be the next area of work that we will be focusing,” he added.
Mr Mene further stated that the AfCFTA has also started the pilot phase of the Pan-African payments and settlement platform of six countries in West Africa who have switched on to the platform adding that transactions are already happening within the six countries.
He said, “Africa has 42 currencies and the cost of the currency convertibility is a constraints to intra Africa Trade, it makes us feel inefficient, it makes our trade unnecessarily expensive, it adds to the cost of doing business.
“When the system fully is up and running you will be able to transact with somebody in Kenya in Naira and they will receive Kenya shillings and Afrixim bank will be the Correspondent facility, we are working with them at the Secretariat, they have been very strong investing in African solutions.
“So the payment settlement platform will really make a significant contribution and our estimate is that it will reduce the cost of transactions by 5 billion dollars annually, that is the aggregate amount that is spent on currency convertibility.”
What you should know
AfCFTA was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations to create a single continent-wide market for goods and services and to promote the movement of capital and natural persons.
One of the the objective of the agreement is to ensure that 97% of products traded in Africa should be at zero duty in the next 15 years.
The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
Accra, Ghana serves as the Secretariat of AfCFTA and was commissioned and handed over to the AU by the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo on August 17, 2020, in Accra.