The Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA is far more than just a trade agreement. It embodies long-held aspirations for an integrated Africa which, in the words of Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, would be better equipped to “tackle hopefully every emergency, every enemy and every complexity.” As one of the flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063, the free trade initiative is envisioned as a pathway to an African renaissance in both economic and cultural terms. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the AfCFTA could integrate 55 African Union (AU) member states in a market of about 1.2 billion people with an estimated gross domestic product of US $ 2.5 trillion. Moreover, the area is expected to reflect the continent’s “common identity by celebrating our history and our vibrant culture.”
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
The African Union Commission estimated that Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) could shrink by up to 4.51 percent, resulting in the loss of 20 million jobs. The looming debt crisis further complicates the pandemic-induced economic shock, severely limiting governments' ability to repay their foreign loans and address the current crisis. From 2010 to 2018, the average public debt in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 40%-59% of GDP, making it the continent with the fastest-growing debt accumulation toward sovereign, private and multilateral lenders.
This post analyzes the potential impact of COVID-19 on the African continent given systemic healthcare vulnerabilities and the need for contextualized containment strategies. It examines the historical role of international financial institutions in limiting domestic health spending and capacity. This post also delves into re-conceptualizing responsibility for pandemic and epidemic diseases.
While the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) 2017 Nigerian Annual Trade Policy Report (NAPTOR) was an excellent step in the right direction, it is not enough. As such, in the spirit of the legal reform proposals that the CLRNN inaugural conference demanded, I urge the Nigeria government to develop and adopt a coherent and robust regional trade policy that will be updated from time to time to reflect the realities of the day.
The AfCFTA will continue to face a number of risks that threaten to impede continental integration in favour of fragmentation. Of interest to this post are bilateral trade agreements between African countries, individually or in smaller groups, on the one hand, and non-African countries or regions, on the other.