Editor’s Note: April 03, 2019
Ratification is not implementation
Gambia on Tuesday became the 22nd country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Just over a year since launching on March 22, 2018, this marks the minimum threshold required for the agreement to come into force.
Its aim is to, once and for all, fix the problem of limited regional integration on the continent – a major brake on growth and development. It’s the biggest free trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, and success could see intra-African trade grow 52% by 2022.
It’s a historic moment, on paper.
For one, 22 countries is still less than half the 52 that have signed the agreement. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, has not signed.
The bigger question is whether the agreement will be meaningfully implemented. Africa’s track record, littered with well-meaning but ineffective initiatives like this, is cause for caution.
Even without this the task of unifying the continent’s diverse 54 countries is enormous, requiring a level of political will and commitment any part of the world would struggle with.
In short, ratification is not implementation.
Proponents of the AfCFTA argue that this time is different.
Let’s hope so. With the agreement due to come into force in 30 days, they’ll soon be able to prove it.
From The Continent
Credit ratings agency Moody’s has warned that South Africa faces risks to its credit rating from rising debt and state-owned enterprises, days after forgoing a scheduled review that could have seen the country downgraded to junk. Moody’s is the last of the big three ratings agencies to maintain an investment grade rating for the country, at Baa3 with a stable outlook. More: Bloomberg
Sierra Leone’s finance ministry has said a technical audit of state spending between 2015 - 2018 has revealed $1bn that cannot be accounted for. The findings are part of an anti-corruption drive under president Julius Maada Bio, who took office in April 2018. More: Africanews
The Daily Stat
The number of days Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was in power before stepping down on Tuesday. More: BBC
The Global Perspective
Oil major ExxonMobil is reportedly considering selling $3bn worth of stakes in onshore and offshore fields in Nigeria. The move is said to be aimed at refocusing on new developments in US shale, and Guyana. More: OilPrice
The National Basketball Association (NBA) plans to invest millions of dollars into its recently announced Basketball Africa League, its first professional league outside North America. Twelve teams are expected to participate in the league, which is slated for launch in January 2020. More: Reuters