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More Countries Than Expected are Ratifying African Free Trade Pact

by Dan Ngabonziza
5:10 pm

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mahamaou Issoufou of Niger. Both countries will submit ratified AfCFTA agreement to AU any time soon

On May 11, Kenya and Ghana made history as the first signatory countries to submit their papers of ratification to African Union Commission.

“Ghana and Kenya today made history as the first two countries on the Continent to deposit the instrument of ratification of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. I hope this will galvanize other countries who have signed the CFTA to ratify it by 2019,” Mousa Faki Mahamat – African Union Commission chair tweeted yesterday after receiving papers from Kenya and Ghana.

At least 22 countries need to have submitted instrument of ratification for the agreement to come into effect.

Speaking to KT Press on Friday, Trade and Industry Minister Vincent Munyeshyaka said there is optimism that the needed signatures will be submitted before end of this year.

“We have confidence that more than 22 countries will have submitted instrument of ratification before end of December this year,” Munyeshyaka said.

Rwanda, which hosted the historic signing of the agreement, was tasked, along with Niger and African Union Commission, to conduct mobilization for countries to ratify the agreement.

According to Munyeshyaka, many countries are in the final stages to ratify the agreement.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya signs the AfCFTA deal. Kenya has ratified the agreement.

For instance, he said, Rwanda and Niger have finalized everything and only remain with the final signature.

In Rwanda, a national task force was formed to push for reification of the agreement. The task force is comprised of officials in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Finance and Economic Planning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Justice Ministry.

“We have been mobilizing countries to ratify the agreement. Recently, we mobilized West African countries and the next move is the East African Community,” Munyeshyaka told KT Press.

According to Minister Munyeshyaka, “Part of the task the team will do include mobilizing and teaching Rwandans what the agreement is all about. We believe that our citizens need to understand it beyond political level,” he said.

The documents signed in Kigali include the establishment of Continental Free Trade Area, the Protocol of the Free Movement of People and the Kigali Declaration.