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

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7281

The number of days Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was in power before stepping down on Tuesday.  More: BBC

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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

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