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.
The AfCFTA will over a period of 15 years after entry into force progressively eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, making it easier for African businesses to trade within the continent and cater to and benefit from the growing African market. Consolidating this continent into one trade area provides great opportunities for trading enterprises, businesses and consumers across Africa and the chance to support sustainable development in the world’s least developed region.