The African Union said on Thursday that it will launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on July 7 in Niamey, Niger.
The AU said the launch will be part of a series of statutory and technical meetings to be held in Niamey between July 4 and July 7. The first coordination meeting between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities is also set to take place on July 8.
African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat termed the event as a remarkable and historic achievement.
The AU said that a decision on the location of the secretariat of the AfCFTA is also expected to be made. The secretariat’s primary mandate will be the implementation the agreement. Seven countries have submitted bids to host the secretariat. They are: Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal.
The AU’s Executive Council will elect four board members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption and prepare the draft agenda and decisions for the 12th Extraordinary Assembly that will launch the AfCFTA.
The AU noted that the launch of the operational phase means that traders across Africa will be able to make use of preferential trading arrangements offered by the AfCFTA
The AfCFTA came into force in May after a minimum of 22 ratifications by member states of the AU were deposited. Three additional instruments of ratification have been deposited; bring the total number of countries that have ratified the AfCFTA to 25, according to the AU.