The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, set to become the largest Free Trade Area (FTA) in the global economy, will provide a huge opportunity for Africa by uniting 1.2 billion people into one market, with an estimated combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion, which is expected to reach US$29 trillion by 2050. As a crucial part of the AU Agenda 2063, the main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way towards creating a Customs Union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization across the continent. The AfCFTA is further expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better re-allocation of resources.
Currently, intra-African exports stand at about 17% of total continental exports. Increasing this share will go a long way to increase value addition, enhance employment creation and improved incomes and livelihoods and ultimately lifting millions out of poverty. A World Bank study states that if Africans implement this agreement effectively, there is an opportunity by the year 2035 to lift 100 million Africans out of poverty with additional 30 million Africans being lifted out of extreme poverty. Thus, the implementation of AfCFTA is expected to significantly increase intra-African trade and promote structural transformation of the economies of member countries by serving as a catalyst to industrial development.