JOHN DLUDLU: Free-trade area a ray of hope for Africa
Ambitious ideas such as Africa’s free trade area require credible, inspiring champions to shepherd them through
A fortnight ago African leaders converged in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). If the agreement is ratified by all 22 governments, import tariffs will be scrapped on 90% of goods being traded within the continent. Could this mark a fresh start to Africa’s dream of economic rejuvenation or is this just another false start? The prospects of a fresh start are tantalisingly brighter than this being another false start. Yet so much could still go wrong. The world’s powerful countries have turned inward, succumbing to narrow, short-term populist thinking. Europe is battling with terrorism and immigration and a new trade deal with Britain to manage Brexit. The US, under its erratic leader, is on a destructive path.Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s global stature has diminished. Only one forum, the Brics grouping of leading developing nations, seems to show any regard for it. Having solidified his status as China’s de facto emperor, Xi Jin...