About

Brief Overview
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 of the African Union — the blueprint for Africa’s transformation over 50 years. The decision to establish the Continental Free Trade Area was adopted during the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012. The negotiations to establish the AfCFTA were launched in June 2015 during the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA was signed on 21st March 2018 and entered into force on 30th May 2019. The operational phase of the AfCFTA was launched during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger on 7 July 2019. Trading under the AfCFTA regime commenced on 1st January 2021.

As of January 2022, 54 of 55 Member States of the African Union have signed the AfCFTA Agreement, and 40 have deposited their instruments of ratification with the Depositary of the Agreement. 

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Internet banking, e-commerce and online trading concept. Cropped view of African-American businesman
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Quick Facts

Key timelines in the AfCFTA establishment and negotiations:
January 2012
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The 18th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government adopted the Decision on « Fast tracking the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Boosting Intra-African Trade »
January 2012
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June 2015
Johannesburg, South Africa
The 25th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government launched the negotiations for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
June 2015
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March 2018
Kigali, Rwanda
At the 10th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government, 44 of the 55 African Union Member States signed the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA);
March 2018
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30 May 2019
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Entry into force of the AfCFTA Agreement, after the 22nd deposit of instrument of ratification by the Saharawi Republic on 29 April 2019.
30 May 2019
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July 2019
Niamey, Niger
The 12th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government launched the operational phase of the AfCFTA. Start of trading under the AfCFTA Agreement began on 1st January 2021.
July 2019
H.E. Wamkele Mene was elected first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA on 10th February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
10 February 2020
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
H.E. Wamkele Mene was elected first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA on 10th February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
10 February 2020
H.E. Wamkele Mene is sworn-in on 19 March 2020 as first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
19 March 2020
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
H.E. Wamkele Mene is sworn-in on 19 March 2020 as first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
19 March 2020
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17 August 2020
Accra, Ghana
The Official handover and Commissioning of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat Building
17 August 2020
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1 January 2021
Johannesburg, South Africa
Start of Trading under AfCFTA. 13th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly on the AfCFTA
1 January 2021

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The 18th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government adopted the Decision on « Fast tracking the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Boosting Intra-African Trade »

January 2012

Johannesburg, South Africa

The 25th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government launched the negotiations for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

June 2015

Kigali, Rwanda

At the 10th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government, 44 of the 55 African Union Member States signed the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA);

March 2018

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Entry into force of the AfCFTA Agreement, after the 22nd deposit of instrument of ratification by the Saharawi Republic on 29 April 2019.

30 May 2019

Niamey, Niger

The 12th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government launched the operational phase of the AfCFTA. Start of trading under the AfCFTA Agreement began on 1st January 2021.

July 2019

Johannesburg, South Africa

Start of Trading under AfCFTA.

13th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly on the AfCFTA

1 January 2021