With Benin and Nigeria set to sign up to the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA; Eritrea becomes the loner yet to sign up to the deal and to ratify same.
The AfCFTA achieved maturity on May 30 after it received the required number of 22 signatories. Concerns had been raised especially over Nigeria’s failure to join.
Nigeria, the largest economy on the continent, had raised eyebrows across the continent but the government insisted that it was conferring with stakeholders back home before committing to the deal.
President Buhari confirmed earlier this week that Nigeria will sign up on June 7, 2019 during an extraordinary African Union, AU, summit in Niamey.
The AU’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, on Friday disclosed that Benin had also declared that it will sign up on the same day that Nigeria does.
“Officially confirmed! Benin to Sign AfCFTA Agreement during Niamey Extraordinary Summit & become 54th signatory State. Good development!
“One more signatory state before all 55 African Union Member States are signatories. One African Market in formation,” he said in a tweet. The one more signatory is Eritrea.
Officially confirmed! Benin to Sign #AfCFTA Agreement during Niamey Extraordinary Summit & become 54th signatory State. Good development! One more signatory state before all 55— Amb. Albert Muchanga (@AmbMuchanga) July 5, 2019
_AfricanUnionMember States are signatories. One African Market in formation. ECA_OFFICIAL pic.twitter.com/ZwKZ6DkRqq
The AU initiative aims to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion. Different African countries have made varying levels of commitment.
The highest being the ratification and deposition of necessary documents with the AU. The other class being the signing of the agreement and the non-commitment level being those that have yet to even sign up.
After Nigeria and Benin, fifty-four of the AU’s 55 member states have signed the agreement to establish the free trade area since March 2018. In March 2018, 44 government representatives signed the deal at a meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.