For the AfCFTA to succeed will require more than its regulatory framework; a supporting framework is also required and this is found in what Douglass North has termed “mental models”. Mental models are the necessary norms and beliefs of policy makers - their perceptions of the world around them.
Thus, for purposes of AfCFTA sustainability, AfCFTA implementation mechanisms should: integrate inclusive and participatory decision-making process; retain policy space for national interests; and extend AfCFTA benefits to all society groups—women, youth, people with disabilities, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)—without comprising the sustainability of environmental resources.
This low level of priority accorded to the social impact of the AfCTA contradicts the core values and aspirations of the African Union (AU). Most notably Article 3 (g) and 4 (c), (I), (m), and (n) of the AU Constitutive Act which all envisage an African Union that is democratic, inclusive, open to the participation of stakeholders, and sensitive to social concerns in the pursuit of economic development. However, going by what transpired prior to Kigali, it appears that priority was not accorded to these concerns mentioned above. More importantly, the recent hiccups experienced at the Kigali Summit are evidence that dialoguing with a broad range of stakeholders about the impact of trade on social structures is vital to the attainment of legitimate and effective economic agreements in Africa.