President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Niamey, Niger Republic signed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) pact.
Buhari appended his signature to the treaty in the presence of African Heads of State and Government, delegates and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media attending the 12th Extraordinary Summit of African Union (AU) on Launch of the Operational Phase of AfCFTA.
Speaking after signing the agreement, the president told the Summit that Nigeria will build on the event by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of AfCFTA.
“Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade.
“As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population.
“I wish to assure you, that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want,’’ he said.
Buhari also congratulated Ghana on being selected to host the Secretariat of AfCFTA.
“We fully understand the potential of AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges, whether security, economic or corruption.
“But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society stakeholders and the public in general.”
Buhari noted that Nigeria’s signing of AfCFTA and its Operational Launch at the 12th Extraordinary Summit was an additional major step forward on the AU’s Agenda 2063.
54 out 55 African countries sign pact
With Nigeria and Benin Republic signing the Agreement at the Summit, 54 out of 55 African countries have signed the world’s largest free trade area deal, encompassing 55 countries and 1.2 billion people.
Eritrea, according to the presidency is the only African country yet to sign the agreement.
A total of 26 African countries have deposited instruments of ratification, with Gabon being the latest after depositing her instrument of ratification during the Extraordinary Summit.
AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019 thirty days after having received the twenty-second instrument of ratification on 29 April, 2019 in conformity with legal provisions.