South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the coming into effect of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) was a milestone that fulfilled a dream crafted by the founders of the Organisation of African Union 60 years ago when they mulled an integrated continent, African News Agency, ANA, reported on Tuesday.
At a summit in Niger on Sunday, African leaders launched the AfCFTA which committed signatories to removing tariffs from 90 percent of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.
A statement from the Presidency said Ramaphosa expected the agreement to catapult the economies of many African countries onto a higher growth trajectory.
He said South Africa stood 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 Gross Domestic Product of US$3.2 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,” Ramaphosa’s office said.
“One of the key spin-offs is expected to be greater focus and urgency for infrastructure development across the continent to support economic activities,” the statement said.
Nigeria, which boasts one of Africa’s largest economies, was one of the last countries to commit to the deal.
This would give the AfCFTA even more relevance, said TC Chetty, South Africa country manager for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
“It is a welcome move by Nigeria and gives the AfCFTA more clout, with 54 countries having now signed,” Chetty said in a statement.