African leaders from 44 countries out of 55 signed and launched the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) during the 10 Extraordinary Summit in the capital Kigali.
The other two legal instruments are the protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to free movement of persons, right of residence and right of establishment, and the Kigali Declaration, of which the majority signed.
Nigeria, Eritrea and Burundi boycotted the historic signing.
43 countries signed the Kigali Declaration, 44 countries signed and ratified the AfCFTA and 27 countries signed the protocol for free movement of people.
Some of the Presidents that attended include, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Gambia’s Adama Barrow, Chad’s Idriss Deby Itno, Niger’s Moumadou Issoufou.
Commenting on the importance of the AfCFTA President Paul Kagame said during the opening remarks that, “At the same time, we will be in a better position to leverage our growing strength and unity to secure Africa’s rightful interests in the international arena”
He added: “The advantages we gain by creating one African market will also benefit our trading partners around the world, and that is a good thing”
Kagame said that AfCFTA will fuel prosperity and increase value addition for good and services made in Africa. “The promise of free trade and free movement is prosperity for all Africans, because we are prioritising the production of value-added goods and services that are “Made in Africa” ” said Kagame.
Meanwhile, during yesterday’s press conference President Ramaphosa echoed good news to Rwanda when he announced the end of the bad air that existed between the two countries.
“We’ve decided to come together and work together and i am honoured to have been appointed Champion of AfCFTA and to have participated in this historic event on the Continent,” Mouhamadou Issoufou
“The AfCFTA that we are to sign is a source of enormous opportunities for African citizens, investors , foreign trade partners to exploit the value chain and be able to export to global markets at competitive price,”
“AfCFTA will reduce brain drain and migration problems to the Continent and reduce cost of business and distribution as a result of removing non-tariff and tariff barriers,” said Mouhamadou Issoufou
“Consider Rwanda-South Africa visa issue, as a matter that is solved. We are working with President Kagame to put relations between Rwanda and South Africa on a much better footing,” President Ramaphosa said.
“Amongst the issues we discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to people of Rwanda wanting to visit South Africa,
Fifty countries that have signed today’s attended the signing ceremony include; Chad, Niger, Rwanda, Kenya, Djibouti, South Africa, Sahrawi Arab Republic, Mozambique, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic (CAR), Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Malawi, Senegal, Gambia, Sudan, South Sudan, Gabon, Ghana, Angola, Ivory Cost, DR Congo, Mali, Guinea Bissau, South Sudan, Uganda, Togo, Benin, Liberia, Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Tanzania, Lesotho, Morocco, Swaziland, Mauritius Tunisia, Sao Tome & Principe, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Libya, Madagascar, Zambia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Namibia and Botswana.
Photos by Pacifique HIMBAZA