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The African Continental Free Trade Agreement – rhetoric or reality?

Join us in conversation with a panel of African experts as we unpack the risks and rewards associated with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), signed by 44 African countries in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2018, is meant to create a tariff-free continent that can grow local businesses, boost intra-African trade, rev up industrialisation and create jobs.

The agreement creates a single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union with free movement of capital and business travellers. Countries joining AfCFTA must commit to removing tariffs on at least 90% of the goods they produce.

If all 55 African countries join a free trade area, it will be the world's largest by number of countries, covering more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The ECA adds that intra-African trade is likely to increase by 52.3% by 2020 under the AfCFTA.

The signing of the AfCFTA comes at a time when the benefits of trade are actively contested, and global powers that traditionally promoted trade as a crucial driver of growth are now calling into question its very tenets.

Yet despite this, progress on this initiative by Africa policymakers has been rapid and significant.

In April 2019, The Gambia became the 22nd African country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA), meaning the bill now has the minimum number of ratifications needed to come into effect.

With palpable excitement that the dream for a continental free trade area in Africa is edging closer to reality, it is now time to assess what this really means in practical terms.

The session will explore the following areas:

  • Why is AfCFTA being talked about as a game-changer for the continent?
  • This is not the first initiative of this nature. What is different this time around?
  • How will AfCFTA improve the ease and the cost of doing business?
  • Can the agreement be successful even if Nigeria doesn't become a signatory?
  • How will businesses and consumers benefit?
  • Is the political will to implement this initiative really there?
  • Does this even make sense given the lessons from the Eurozone?
  • Who are the big winners and losers?


Speakers confirmed to date:

  • Itumeleng Mahabane (Brunswick Group);
  • Asmita Parshotam (SAIIA);
  • Tshepidi Moremong (RMB) 

  • Ramesh Moochikal (Olam); and
  • Ronak Gopaldas  (GIBS Fellow, Panel Moderator).

Additional Info:

Registration and Breakfast: 08:00 - 08:30

Starts: 08:30

Ends: 09:45

Want to attend but can't afford to? email for one of the limited free seats available.

Please note: GIBS forums are filmed for City Press, BDTV and further distribution.

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