Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, told Africa Renewal that the African Free Trade Agreement will not be a traditional trade agreement focused on tariff reduction. Instead, the Kigali agreement aims to liberalize the services sector. The perimeter of the AfCFTA is important. The agreement will reduce tariffs between Member States and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as hygiene standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would transform markets and economies across the region and boost production in the services, manufacturing and raw materials sectors. Removing import duties could potentially boost intra-African trade by more than 50%, while a reduction in non-tariff barriers will double the volume of trade, notes the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Whatever its historical significance, much remains to be done before countries can benefit from a free trade area. Countries committed to the agreement are expected to present their timetables for concessions for trade in goods and services by next year. Concession schedules outline products and services that countries will no longer tax.
Although infrastructure has improved, there is still a long way to go to facilitate trade between countries. They cannot build a value chain across the continent if there are countless customs stamps, customs signatures and certificates to simply move a container from one country to another. Blockages and bureaucracy need to be reduced. After years of discussions, the aim is to create a single market for goods and services in 54 countries, allow the free movement of business travellers and investments, and create a continental customs union to streamline trade – and attract long-term investment. What complicates matters further is that Africa was already divided into eight separate free trade zones and/or union unions, with different regulations. [Note 1] These regional bodies will continue to exist; The African Continental Free Trade Agreement aims firstly to remove barriers to trade between the various pillars of the African Economic Community and, finally, to use these regional organizations as building blocks of the ultimate goal of an African-wide customs union.     Basically, AfCFTA will put African economies – and African citizens – on a better economic basis.