South Africa has ratified the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The news was broken at the 32nd Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
South Africa’s Parliament in December ratified the agreement of the establishment of the AfCFTA.
The agreement will come into effect once the 22 member states deposit their instruments for ratification.
Since the Kigali Summit last year, eight countries have signed the AfCFTA Agreement – South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Burundi, Namibia, Guinea Bissau, Botswana, and Zambia – bringing the total number of signatories to 52.
For Nigeria however, the position of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), is that Government should not sign the Framework Agreement until wide reaching sensitisation and proper assessment are conducted on its impact on the economy and the manufacturing sector, remains unchanged.
MAN recommended the need for Government to do proper assessment of the impact to ascertain how beneficial AfCFTA would be to Nigeria, and provide necessary adjustment costs as well as competitiveness enhancing infrastructure before deciding whether to sign or not.
MAN President, Mansur Ahmed, said: “We are confident that the eventual position of Nigeria on the AfCFTA Framework Agreement would be well-articulated in a fresh National Negotiation Mandate that is in the best interest of the manufacturing sector and indeed the Nigerian economy while paying utmost attention to emerging issues on AfCFTA and ensure that the industrial aspiration of the country is not compromised on the platter of free trade.”
Twenty-two ratifications are required for the Agreement to enter into force. The African Union Commission hopes to achieve the required number of ratifications by March.
To date, only nine countries have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission – Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Guinea, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Uganda, and Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) – and an additional nine countries have received parliamentary approval for ratification – namely South Africa, Sierra Leone, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, Congo, Togo, Mauritania and Djibouti.
The total number of ratifications (approved and deposited) now stands at 18. President Cyril Ramaphosa handed the deposits to AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The President said he was handing over the deposits as mandated by the people of South Africa, and authorised by the country’s Parliament.
“We do so willingly having been mandated to do, becoming one of those African states who have now signed to become full participants of the Africa Free Trade. We therefore deposit this instrument with great pride and joy,” Ramaphosa said, adding: “It creates opportunities for all of us as Africans.”
He said the AfCFTA not only opens up a market of 1.2 billion people but also offers great opportunity for the South African economy.
“It opens opportunities for economic development and infrastructure progress for all the other countries on the African continent. We are very pleased that the AU has seen it correct to move the continent in this direct so that all countries can progress economically and in other ways,” he said.