African countries began officially trading under a new continent-wide free trade area on Friday, after months of delays caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that will be the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.

Backers say it will boost trade among African neighbours while allowing the continent to develop its own value chains.

The World Bank estimates it could lift tens of millions out of poverty by 2035.

Trading under the AfCFTA started on Friday, January 1, 2021 in Africa, making it the world’s largest free trade area in terms of participating member states after the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

With the secretariat is located in Accra, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on January 1, 2021 joined other African leaders including, Cyril Ramaphosa, MahamoduIssoufou, FakiMahamat, WamkeleMene, and African Trade Ministers including Ghana’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematenand Representatives of Strategic Partners in a Webinar ceremony to usher in the start of trading under the AfCFTA.

President Akufo-Addo during the online launch ceremony opined that there is a new Africa emerging with a sense of urgency and purpose and an aspiration to become self-reliant,”

President Akufo-Addo seized the opportunity to reiterate the call for those member States that have not yet signed and ratified the Agreement to do so in order to increase the size of the market.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area founded in 2018. 

It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations as a flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

AfCFTA creates a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion.

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