By David Malingha Doya
Ghana and Kenya were first countries to ratify free-trade deal
Ramaphosa signed agreement last week, says will ratify soon
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged his Nigerian counterpart to sign a continent-wide free-trade deal.
Nigeria should take its time to consult on the agreement before signing up, but shouldn’t “take too long,” Ramaphosa said at a conference in the West African nation’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday. “The continent is waiting for Nigeria and South Africa. By trading among ourselves, we are able to retain more resources in the continent.”
Talks to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3 trillion started in 2015 and in May Ghana and Kenya became the first countries to ratify the deal. Ramaphosa signed the agreement last week in Mauritania. South Africa will ratify it “soon,” he said.
Read more about Africa’s move toward free trade
The AfCFTA is a project driven by the African Union to eliminate tariffs on intra-Africa trade of goods and services and create a single continental market with free movement of business people. It will only become effective once the parliaments of at least 22 members ratify it.
South Africa and Nigeria account for about half of the continent’s GDP.
Nigeria can’t rush signing the deal because it doesn’t want to get things wrong, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said at the conference. Her government is talking to stakeholders including manufacturers, she said.
— With assistance by Solape Renner