East & Southern Africa Region

CFTA Milestone for Africa

Africa scored big as Presidents of 44 nations came together as they signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in Kigali, Rwanda on the equinox of March 2018. Eighteen of the 24 countries in East and Southern Africa region Members were among the 44 that appended their signatures on the document, christened, Kigali Declaration.  At the same time, 27 African nations signed the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right to Residence and Right to Establishment. At least half of the signatories must ratify the the AfCFTA before it enters into force. More countries still have to go through various governmental and parliamentary processes before fully embracing the full vision of the AfCTFA. It is expected to lead into massive increase in flow goods as countries remove tariffs and permit freer movement of goods, increasing intra-continental trade by over 50% by 2022.

The population of Africa’s 55 countries is reported to currently stand at 1.2 billion.

The African Union Commission lists the objectives of the CFTA as to: Create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union; Expand intra African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation regimes and instruments across RECs and across Africa in general;  Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes and; Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources. Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president and the host of the AU summit during the signing of the Agreement.


  1. Consolidated Text on AfCFTA [EN] [FR]
  2. Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa [EN] [FR]
  3. Kigali Declaration on CFTA [EN] [FR]