ED arrives in Rwanda for AU summit

ED arrives in Rwanda for AU summit

African leaders have begun arriving in Rwanda ahead of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement signing due on Wednesday, but without a key figure, Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari.

Opening the 18th Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the African Union on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) 2018 on Monday in Kigali, Rwanda, Mahamat‏ said the AfCFTA will help to give concrete responses to the demands of the youths.

On the 20th of March, a day before the signing, government delegations will join Africa's top business leaders and other stakeholders to exchange views on the continent's economic transformation through trade at a special day of celebration and dialogue called the AfCFTA Business Summit. Sola Afolabi, a Nigerian trade expert, said it looked "good on paper" but warned of "hiccups".

The extraordinary meeting of the heads of state of the African Union is convened by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is also the chairperson of the AU.

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat urged countries to overcome fears and self-interests as they continue to be barriers of regional trade and growth.

Currently, African countries only do about 16 per cent of their business with each other.

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The Summit is expected to consider and conclude issues related to the continental free trade regime AfCFTA and adopt the Agreement on the establishment of the AfCFTA. African steel and aluminum exports are valued at about $800 million.

South Africa, a vocal backer of the trade deal, has argued that African economies are too small to support economic diversification and industrialisation on their own.

"We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are shocked by the sheer impunity or blatant lack of consultation in the process that has led to this", said NLC President Ayuba Wabba.

He worked on setting up the Economic Community of West African States's (ECOWAS) common market, which he has subsequently criticised for failing to punish countries that violated its terms.

"If there is no reward for compliance and there is no punishment for non-compliance, then it is going to be a very nice agreement without any teeth or any legs", he said.

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