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African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) start of trading officially launched

On 1st January 2021 trading under the AfCFTA was officially launched. This was a historic milestone for the continent as Africa will really start to trade with Africa. To mark the occasion, a ceremony including speeches by some African Union Heads of State and Government, representatives of development partners and the private sector as well as showing of videos on different aspects of trade and development in Africa was organised by the AfCFTA Secretariat.

Currently, the percentage of trade that African countries do with each other is a mere 16 - 18%. The bulk of the continent’s trade is with the rest of the world, and most African exports are in raw materials including extractive commodities like oil, gas and minerals which are vulnerable to market volatility.

Under AfCFTA trading, tariffs on various commodities where rules of origin have been agreed will be drastically reduced and traders of all sizes will have access to a much bigger market than they used to before. Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade will also be addressed and a mechanism for speedy reporting and resolution of NTBs has been put in place ( The bigger market will spur producers to upscale and so support increased industrialization and value addition on the continent. More employment opportunities will thus be generated for Africa’s burgeoning youth population.


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