ADEKEYE ADEBAJO: New African free trade accord ignores failures of the past
Hostility of governments outside West Africa towards migration sabotages prospects for free movement of people
The AU launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018 under the chairpersonship of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, and endorsed it at its recent summit. The accord — involving 1-billion people and a GDP of $2.2-trillion — focuses on the facilitation of trade; infrastructure; establishing a common market for goods, services and investment; and ensuring the free movement of people. Intra-African trade is a paltry 14% of the total for the continent. The area can be contrasted with the efforts of the late Nigerian scholar-administrator Adebayo Adedeji, Africa’s foremost prophet of regional integration, who led the creation of regional blocs in West, central, and East Africa. From the 1970s, Adedeji called for Africa to move away from orthodox prescriptions on the efficacy of international trade as an engine for economic growth, ideas on which AfCFTA is based. He opposed Africa’s continued exports of primary products while importing consumer goods. Adedeji urged the contin...
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