Uhuru travels to commit to Continental Free Trade Area

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At the African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda, Paul Kagame, host president, declared the meeting a success after initial negotiations were concluded.

Thw Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, and the Kigali Declaration that expresses African unity in moving forward, are also scheduled to be adopted at the one day summit, held on the last day of the five-day AU extraordinary summint on the AfCFTA.

Intra-Africa trade stands at about 16 percent of the continent's total, compared with 19 percent in Latin America and 51 percent in Asia, according to the AU.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, added "Africa is a sleeping giant that can't wake up if the continent is divided", and urged leaders to accelerate the pace of integration.

Even though 44 countries signed up for AfCFTA, the agreement will have to be ratified by national parliaments of signatory countries after which the free trade area will come into effect.

The agreement is touted by the African Union as encompassing a market of 1.2 billion people, and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.

A single continental market for goods and services is beneficial to the continent which has always been lagging behind in terms of development as it boosts trade between African countries.

Amid unfolding conflicts in global trade, African leaders have managed to break new ground on a free trade agreement that would unite 44 of the 55 African Union (AU) member states.

The goal of the agreement was to improve intra-regional trade throughout the continent with hopes to decrease Africa's poverty rate and grow its manufacturing base by ridding the continent of all trade barriers, including "non-tariff barriers and removing import duties", as reported on CNN.

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo stressed the importance of intra-African trade for Africa's economic development.

Experts say countries with ports serving landlocked nations fear a loss of revenue. It is hoped that it will encourage Africa's trade to diversify away from its traditional commodity exports outside of the continent, the volatile prices of which have hurt the economies of many countries.

In recent years, nations like Ethiopia and Ghana have tried to wean themselves from this cycle by building factories and new infrastructure for local industries, spurring rapid growth.

A free-trade deal has been agreed by more than 40 African countries for the partial removal of tariffs.

The Special Guest of Honour Ras Thau Thau Haramanuba, President of the Rastafari United Front of South Africa called on participants to appreciate Rastafari as a militant revolutionary movement to restore the African dignity.

Gates said his foundation was pushing vaccination against polio in conflict-hit northeast Nigeria and Chad.

AfCFTA is among the top priorities in the AU Agenda 2063, which provides for a new vision for Africa's development over five decades.

Governments now have to ratify the CFTA in their countries within the next six months, by September.

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