Niamey at the opening of the African Union (AU) Summit.
President Buhari appended his signature to the treaty at exactly 10: 47
a.m. in the presence of African Heads of State and Government, delegates
and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media
attending the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Launch
of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.
In his remarks shortly after signing the agreement, the President
declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration have
never been in doubt nor was it ever under threat.
He told the Summit that Nigeria will build on the event by proceeding
expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA.
”Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade.
”As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the
AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our
young, dynamic and hardworking population.
”I wish to assure you, that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership
role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also
continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build
the Africa that we want,” President Buhari said.
The Nigerian leader also congratulated Ghana on being selected to host
the Secretariat of the AfCFTA.
President Buhari stated further:
”I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of my country,
the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for
signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the
African Union, on 21st March 2018.
”In fact, you will recall that the treaty establishing the African
Economic Community was signed in Abuja in 1991.
”We fully understand the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in
Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s
challenges, whether security, economic or corruption.
”But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the
full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society
stakeholders and the public in general.
”It is against this background that we embarked on an extensive
nationwide consultation and sensitization programme of our domestic
stakeholders on the AfCFTA.
”Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a
platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to
construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services.
”It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our
nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade which is the free
movement of ‘made in Africa goods’ “.
”Some of the critical challenges that we identified will require our
collective action as a Union and we will be presenting them for
consideration at the appropriate AfCFTA fora.
”Examples are tackling injurious trade practices by third parties and
attracting the investment we need to grow local manufacturing and
President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s signing of the AfCFTA and its
Operational Launch at the 12th Extraordinary Summit was an additional
major step. forward on the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Meanwhile, with Nigeria and Benin Republic signing the Agreement at the
Summit, 54 out of 55 African countries have signed the world’s largest
free trade area deal, encompassing 55 countries and 1.2 billion people.
Eritrea is the only African country yet to sign the agreement.
A total of 26 African countries have deposited instruments of
ratification, with Gabon being the latest after depositing her
instrument of ratification during the Extraordinary Summit.
The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019 thirty days
after having received the twenty-second instrument of ratification on 29
April, 2019 in conformity with legal provision.