The African Continental Free Trade Area- A New Era for African Integration or Another Grandiose Razzmatazz?
The AfCFTA continues to be celebrated as a game-changer in African regional integration and its 54 member states; a combined 1,2 billion people (expected to reach 2,5 billion by 2050) and US$2,5 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP). Empirical studies done by the Economic Commission for Africa have established that the AfCFTA will increase the value of intra- African trade by 15 per cent to 25 per cent (US$50 billion to US$70 billion) more in terms of trade in 2040, compared to what the figure will be if AfCFTA is not in place. Despite the high expectations and optimism, there exist genuine and legitimate political, economic, structural and technical factors that may prevent effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Using secondary data sources, this article critically examines whether the AfCFTA indeed signals a new era for African integration or is another grandiose razzmatazz. The concept of regional economic integration provides a conceptual framework of analysis. The article identifies salient issues that have to be addressed by African countries in their individual capacities or collectively in order to successfully implement the AfCFTA.