Overview of the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA) and challenges of implementation : Nigeria and South Africa's implementation as case studies


University of British Columbia

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Doctor of Philosophy - PhD




The African Continental Free Trade Area (“AfCFTA”) Agreement was launched on March 21, 2018, after 44 African countries signed the AfCFTA agreement, and it subsequently came into force on May 20, 2019 after the first initial 22 countries assented to the same. The AfCFTA aims to create a continental-wide Free Trade Area, with the potential of boosting intra-African trade and galvanize structural transformation of African economies, with a view to promoting socio-economic development of Africa as a whole. The World Bank has proclaimed that the AfCFTA would create the biggest Free Trade Area in the world, in terms of the number of participating countries, connecting 1.3 billion people in Africa, with a combined GDP of USD3.4 trillion; and that if the agreement is fully implemented, it has the potential of lifting 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. The thesis provides a chronological accounts of regional/ continental economic integrations treaties that have been previously adopted by African countries to promote economic development in Africa. However, those previous integration efforts did not achieve their intended objectives, hence the birth of the AfCFTA. The thesis adopts the doctrinal methodology in analyzing the texts of the AfCFTA framework agreement and the Phase I Protocols which have been adopted and have come into effect, namely: the Protocols on Trade in Good, Trade in Service, and Dispute Settlement. The thesis proposes amendment, where necessary, to some of the provisions of the treaties, for effective implementation, and so that the AfCFTA can produce more benefits to the peoples of Africa. The thesis also adopts a comparative methodology to analyze the implementation strategies adopted by Nigeria and South Africa, two of the biggest economies in Africa, drawing lessons from their experimentations for other African countries. Owing to the importance of implementation to the realization of the objectives of AfCFTA, this thesis proffers recommendations on how and what the state parties can do to ensure successful implementation of AfCFTA. The thesis concludes that the AfCFTA’s objectives are achievable, if the state parties show exemplary political will to implement and carry out their obligations under the AfCFTA.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International




Law, Peter A. Allard School of