Reforming domestic law is critical to ensuring countries capture the benefits of their natural resources wealth. In addition, it is increasingly being recognized in investment treaty reform processes as well as in investor-state dispute settlement proceedings that investor compliance with domestic law is a prerequisite to entertaining investor claims against states.
The AfCFTA is thus a positive development for Africa as it seeks to advance its own interests through intra-African trade. For a region of the world that contributes to only about 3% of global trade, increasing intra-African trade is a laudable project. For example, while intra-Asia and intra-Europe trade account for 59 per cent and 69 per cent of exports respectively, intra-African trade accounts for only 18 per cent of total exports. However, despite the modest successes at improving intra-African trade through the eight African Union-recognized regional trade agreements on the continent, there are genuine apprehensions regarding the viability of the proposed AfCFTA.
In this essay, I argue that the AfCFTA needs to rethink its relationship with the continental emancipatory movements. Its focus on economic integration without social-emancipatory movements undermines its central aim of creating “the Africa we want.” Its top-down approach fails to capture labor movements in Africa. Additionally, by creating yet another integration organization in Africa despite the existence of several regional and continental integration projects it cashes organizational costs that could have been spent in creating a labor-friendly integration project.