The agreement is seen as crucial to growth and job creation for Africa and its 1.27 billion people. Reaching Nigeria`s agreement and entering the operational phase in July of this year was an important step: «Africa could enter the phase of trade negotiations as a huge market. This could lead to a new engine of growth across the continent,» said Ngaire Woods of the Dean Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Lesotho and Burundi have since signed afCFTA at the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott. [50] Since July 2019, 54 states have signed the agreement. [51] So far, it is true that only five East African countries have submitted their ratification of the AfCFTA. However, what matters is not the number of countries, but the fact that a regional bloc of contiguous countries, representing about three-quarters of regional GDP, is growing. From 1 January 2021, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will all begin with a reduction in their tariffs – starting with a linear reduction to 90% of tariffs – which will result in the abolition of tariffs on intra-regional imports over a five-year period (10 years for countries considered by the United Nations as the «least developed countries»); By the standards of regional trade agreements, this pace of liberalization will be quite rapid. In 1963, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded by the independent states of Africa. The aim of the OAU was to promote cooperation between African states. The 1980 Lagos Action Plan was adopted by the organization. The plan proposed that Africa minimize its dependence on the West by encouraging intra-African trade. It began with the creation of a number of regional cooperation organizations in different parts of Africa, such as the Conference on the Coordination of Southern African Development.

Finally, in 1991, this led to the Abuja Treaty, which founded the African Economic Community, an organization that encouraged the development of free trade zones, customs union, an African Central Bank and a common African monetary union. [21] In 2018, Washington Prosper launched The Prosper Africa to coordinate U.S. government resources and expand trade opportunities in Africa, with the goal of doubling two-way trade between the country and the continent. It is not yet known how and how quickly this project, which in principle seems great, will be implemented. Meanwhile, the official U.S. response to AfCFTA was ambivalent at best. Much to the chagrin of African leaders, the United States continues to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Kenya in the hope of developing a model that could be applied later to other African countries. These efforts follow a period of declines in two-way trade between the United States and Africa: between 2014 and 2018, U.S. exports to Africa fell by 32 percent, while African exports to the United States fell by 55% over the same period.