44 African countries agree free trade agreement, Nigeria yet to sign

The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda.

Story highlights

  • 44 countries have signed
  • Nigeria, South Africa did not sign

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been signed by 44 African countries at a summit of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda.

10 of the African Union's (AU) 55 member states did not sign the agreement.
The summit was a step forward for the AU's 2063 project for closer African integration, with 27 member states also signing a commitment for the free movement of persons.
    The AfCFTA has the potential to bring over 1.2bn people together into the same market. The bloc of 55 nations would be the largest in the world by member states.
    Rwanda's President Paul Kagame signs an agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.
    African leaders signed the agreement that is predicted to boost intra-African trade. If successful, it will be the biggest trade trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.
    By reducing barriers to trade, such as removing import duties and non-tariff barriers, African countries hope to boost intra-continental business.
    The AfCFTA could improve trade between African countries, which in 2016 estimates stated accounted for only 10%.

    Nigeria hasn't joined the party

    Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari.
    However, it wasn't all forward progress. In a set-back for the African Union, Nigeria, one of Africa's largest economies and the most populous, declined to sign the agreement.
    Commenting on Twitter, Nigeria's President Buhari said: "We will not agree to anything that will undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or that may lead to Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for finished goods."
    South Africa, also one of Africa's largest economies, did not sign the agreement, but President Ramaphosa stated his commitment to the agreement once the necessary legal processes were undertaken. The president did sign the Kigali agreement on the establishment of the AfCFTA.