ED to ink Africa's biggest free trade agreement

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa joins African leaders today in Rwanda where they are set to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) — the biggest free trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Mnangagwa was reportedly congratulated by Nigeria’s influential former president Olusegun Obasanjo for a “peaceful political transition” in Zimbabwe that toppled authoritarian ruler Robert Mugabe.

A former right hand man of Mugabe, who rose to the presidency through a soft-coup, Mnangagwa is  set to put his signature to an agreement that will launch the AfCFTA in Kigali today.

The African leaders’ hopes of establishing the world’s largest free trade area has, however, been hit by the withdrawal of Nigeria from the launch.

Leaders are today setting up the AfCFTA involving 55 African Union members with a combined GDP of $2,5 trillion. 

The UN Economic Commission for Africa has estimated the agreement’s implementation could increase intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022, compared with trade levels in 2010.

“The AfCFTA  that we may sign tomorrow (today) is a landmark development in bringing together all the 55 African countries to participate in a market of about $1,2 billion,” State TV beamed Mnangagwa speaking at a Business Forum held at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda on the eve of the launch of the AfCFTA.

“We have Africa which requires clean water and I have no doubt that Africa as a continent has the capacity to provide clean water for our people.

“Africa needs food security, I have no doubt that Africa working together and cooperating we have the capacity to secure and guarantee food security.

“But to achieve this, we need cooperation and dialogue and continuously conscientising our people, our nations to say together we can succeed.

“Civil society has a role to play, yes sometimes they offend governments by pointing out the wrongs that governments do but it is necessary that those are pointed out for us, if we have to remain in power we must continuously correct the things that are said we are doing wrong and we will remain ruling and ruling for more years.”

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