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IAD Global Africa Monthly Webinar Series

October 19, 2021

African Continental Free Trade Agreement: Promises and Perils

October  29, 2021

@10:00am (EST)  2:00pm (GMT) Register 

Launched on January 1, 2021, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures (African Union). 

Moderator: Muna Ndulo, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of International & Comparative Law; Elizabeth and Arthur Reich Director, Leo and Arvilla Berger International Legal Studies Program

Panelists:  Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa – Lead, Zziyika and Associates, LLC, former Acting Chief Economist and Vice President, former Director of Research, African Development Bank

Landry Signé  - Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program and the Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institution

This event is funded by the UISFL grant from the Department of Education.

Trade has long been recognized as playing an important role in the economic growth of states.  Africa lags behind other regions and has struggled to participate meaningfully in world trade.  In the past decade, Africa’s participation in world trade has been on average around 5% of world trade. The regional picture is not any different, intra-Africa trade remains insignificant, around 10%, compared to the 70% , 50% 52% and26% in intra-regional trade that has been achieved by Europe, North America, Asia and South America. 

The Chair of the AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat stated; “Today is a historic day for Africa. In 1963, the founders of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had a vision of creating an African Common Market. The start of trading under the African continental free trade are today is an operational start towards the African Common Market. It has been a long journey of focus, determination and resilience.”  

Successful implementation of the African Free Trade Agreement, will require governments and business leaders across Africa to commit to clear plans and consistent action to maximize its offering. Without adequate roads, the right equipment for customs at the border to facilitate the fast and efficient transit of goods; the infrastructure; the manufacturing capacity, the skills to propel trade and the payments system to support trade, it reduces the impact and effectiveness of the agreement. In this webinar, we seek to interrogate the challenges and prospects of African economic integration.

Additional Information


  • Development, Law, and Economics
  • Quality of Life


  • International Development