(Ecofin Agency) - Paul Kagame, new chairman of African Union, convened an extraordinary meeting of the continent's Heads of State and Government, in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018, for the official launch of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). This was told the press by Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit that ends today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to the leader, the launch of this zone underscores African countries’ will to move towards a successful integration and gather efforts to achieve community projects.
“To trade, products are needed; therefore, we must remove obstacles that hinder trade between States in the continent,” said Nigerien President to the press.
The weakness of the continent's infrastructure network is one of the major obstacles to intra-African trade’s development, investment and private sector development.
According to UN economic commission for Africa (ECA)’s conclusions, the CFTA is expected to raise the intra-African trade by 52% ($35 billion), by 2022.
However, there is a need for measures to upgrade trade infrastructures, harmonize and streamline customs procedures and cut transit costs and other trade costs.
The creation of the Continental Free Trade Area was decided in 2012 by the African Union. Its launch was scheduled for October 2017.