“And it’s done! With the required 22 ratifications in record time, the world’s largest trading bloc is now expected to enter in force in July this year (2019),” said African Union Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Dreams to make Africa a one trading bloc by removing all the trading barriers between countries are long overdue. It was a dream kicked off by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana but left before it was actualized. It was resurrected by strongman Muhamar Gadaffi but it was quashed as soon as he proposed it.
The truth is, other continents fear African becoming one. If Africa can become a one trading bloc, even for a year, the economy will rejuvenate such that other superpowers like the USA will have no otherwise but to follow.
But will this ever happen? Are all African countries willing to form a united pact in terms of trade and allow free movement of goods without barriers?
Africa has 54 countries. It was expected that all of them would warm up to the idea and sign to ratify the agreement. More than half of them went mute and some have had to be pleaded with to sign the deal. At the moment, only 22 countries have signed to ratify the agreement. This, under the AU’s rules, means the deal is set to go.
Eliminating the barriers
By eliminating the barriers and opening up Africa to trade with herself by allowing free movement of goods, services and people across the continent, the agreement is set to improve the lives of Africans more than they can imagine.
According to AU, the agreement could help increase combined consumer and business spending in Africa to 6.7 trillion dollars by the year 2030.
The agreement will allow people to access government-funded health services in any member country without being stopped. People will also be able to move from one African country into another and trade without any restriction.
Countries are scared
Some African countries are scared of their resources. It is true that some African countries are more developed than others and those not developed are being viewed as parasites who will want to cling on others to survive.
There are also worries that some countries may take the advantage to stop investing in their own health systems so that their citizens can freely seek medications from other African countries which will be compelled under the agreement to offer the service.
There are also concerns about the spread of diseases such as Ebola if the borders will be set free for people to move in and out of other countries without proper guidelines and restrictions.