African leaders will gather in Ethiopia for the annual summit of the African Union, where the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will take centre stage (AfCTA). 54 African leaders will gather for two days of negotiations under the topic “Acceleration of AfCFTA implementation” at the Addis Ababa-hosted AU summit, with Eritrea being the lone holdout.
Though the continental pact’s mandate has yet to be properly tapped into by African leaders since its debut three years ago, by doing away with all barriers, the AfCFTA’s mandate is to increase intra-African trade by 60% by 2034, resulting in an economic bloc of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.
However, they point out that implementation has fallen short of the target due to a number of obstacles, including disagreements over tariff reductions and border closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts applaud leaders on the continent for the agreement that could lift 50 million Africans out of extreme poverty.