African leaders, including Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, are this week expected to sign a Continental Free Trade Area agreement that will seek to reduce trade restrictions and increase trade amongst the 54 nations.
But there’s a hurdle.
The 190 million rich population and market of Nigeria will not sign the Free Trade Area agreement.
A statement issued by the Presidency of Nigeria and quoted by AFP, an agency says the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will not be joining other Afican leaders in Kigali this week.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil and also Africa’s largest economy and its absence will knead at the move by the African Union to make Africa the biggest trade bloc in the world.
In the reasons advanced, Nigeria says the deal is rushed and hasn’t taken broad consultations from business leaders and the Private sector.
The African Union is yet to comment on the pull out of Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening of the summit, Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the agreement is a key milestone that is capable of bringing a stronger Africa.
She also said all Permanent Representatives had reviewed the contents of the agreement.
Under the African Union agenda 2063 that is geared towards unity, African states pledged to create a Continental Free trade Area to ease trade amongst African countries.
In the last year alone, trade between African countries was at 14% and valued in the region $3.4 billion. For a continent of 1.2 billion people, the largest market in the world, this figure is a low hanger.
If signed into law, the Continental Free Trade Area will make Africa the second biggest trade area in the world after the World Trade Organisation.
Uganda, the region’s biggest food market, already has a delegation in Kigali and the President is expected to arrive in Kigali by Wednesday.