African nations sign largest free trade agreement since start WTO

Heads of state that confirmed attendance of the AU summit include Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, South Africa, DR Congo, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

While admitting that AfCFTA would improve intra-African trade and enhance economic growth and sustainable development, Gr. Jacobs insisted that Nigeria's national interest should however be the primary consideration in the decision to sign-on to such an arrangement.

In 2015, the AU launched the AfCFTA negotiations.

The pact aims at boosting intra-Africa trade by making Africa a single market of 1.2 billion people with a cumulative gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, if ratified by a minimum of 22 countries, would eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of goods and phase out tariffs on other goods.

African Union Trade and Industry Commission commented that the emerging industry in Africa and its middle class would benefit from the gradual abolition of tariffs in trade between the member countries.

Among the delegations from 54 African States that attended the African Union Summit, 27 leaders signed the African Free Trade Area Agreement and the Protocols on Goods, Services and Rules and Procedures for Dispute Settlement.

"The stakes are enormous for Africa, but also for the entire global economy, to which Africa will contribute an ever-greater share in the decades ahead", said President Kagame. The proposal of the free trade is not any different to that which exists in the European Union, and for the most part it means that goods can come and go between the countries.

The AfCFTA will induce an increase in intra-African trade of 52% by 2022 and significantly increase Africa's industrial and agricultural exports, according to Mahamat.

There are however fears that the level of cybercrime in the country could be worse than what is widely known as people are not obligated to report the crime.

However, critics highlight a dearth of roads and other infrastructure linking different African nations, as well as the fact that many countries do not manufacture goods their neighbours may want to import, as challenges to the deal.

The relatively small size of many African markets - only Nigeria and Ethiopia have populations estimated at 100 million people or more - also inhibit private sector investment.

Gates said his foundation was pushing vaccination against polio in conflict-hit northeast Nigeria and Chad.

However, in Nigeria, the plans have not gone down well with unions and business leaders. States now must ratify the deal, but the number of countries needed to put the agreement into force has not yet been agreed upon.