African Free Trade Area: an OAU dream fulfilled

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) is a milestone that fulfils a dream crafted by the founders of the Organisation of African Union (OAU) 60 years ago when they conceptualised an integrated Africa.

President Ramaphosa was speaking at the conclusion of his working visit to Niger, where he attended the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) from 7 – 8 July 2019.

The summit marked the entry into force of the agreement and formally launched the operational phase of the African Internal Market.

“President Ramaphosa anticipates the agreement will catapult the economies of many African countries onto a higher growth trajectory and says South Africa stands to significantly benefit from being part of the world’s largest single market encompassing 55 countries with a combined population of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of USD3.2 trillion.

“The President sees the implementation of the agreement as a platform for African countries to trade among themselves and reap the benefits of the tariff-free area,” said Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko.

One of the key spin-offs is expected to be greater focus and urgency for infrastructure development across the continent to support economic activities.

While at the summit, President Ramaphosa participated in the high level meeting of the African Union on Libya and the first mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities.

The President also held a number of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the Republic of Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangangwa; the Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi; Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, and the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and African Union chairperson Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

During the visit, the President was supported by the International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel. 

President Ramaphosa returned to South Africa on Monday after the successful conclusion of the summit. –