Kenya could become the first country to endorse the continental free-trade zone

Kenya could become the first African nation to endorse the bill supporting the continental free-trade zone, after a bill endorsing the trade agreement was presented to the Parliament for approval by the House of Industrialization Secretary, Adan Mohamed.

The National Assembly is expected to debate on whether to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) or not.

“Parliament is requested to take note of the content of this memorandum, take note of the Cabinet approval for signing, ratification and engagement under phase II and ratify the framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area in good time to facilitate entry into force of the AfCFTA and pave the way for Kenya to exploit opportunities arising from the AfCFTA,” stated Mohamed.

Mohammed further said that the Cabinet has asked the private sector to prepare to extend their foothold into all the 54 African nations.

The continental pact is expected to create a single market for goods, services, and movement of persons to deepen the economic integration of the African continent. When fully implemented, the treaty is expected to enable residents of all member countries to enjoy the convenience of a single passport and currency.

Out of the 54 countries in the continent, only 44 signed the trade deal which gave birth to the world’s largest free trade since the 1995 World Trade Organization.

Countries such as Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria and Africa’s most industrialized country South Africa, did not sign the deal. The Nigerian government said that the trade agreement must fairly and equitably represent the interest of Nigeria and her African brothers.

While South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said “We are part of this process of opening up Africa for trade. All that is holding us back from signing the actual agreement is our own consultation process. We still  need to consult at home, to consult in Cabinet, to consult the partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council Nedlac, and finally to consult Parliamentarians.”

Over the years, Economists have pointed to Africa’s low level of intra-regional trade as one of the reasons for the continent’s enduring poverty and the lack of a strong manufacturing base.