It argues that a free trade agreement could help “diversify Africa`s exports, reducing the volatility of African economies and leading to more sustainable economic growth.” In other words, the agreement could reduce Africa`s dependence on extractive raw materials such as oil and minerals, whose prices often fluctuate on the international market. The agreement was negotiated by the African Union (AU) and signed on 21 March 2018 by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda.   The agreement first requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to goods, goods and services across the continent.  The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022.  The proposal is expected to enter into force 30 days after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.  On 2 April 2019, The Gambia became the 22nd state to ratify the Convention and on 29 April, the Sahrawi Republic tabled the 22nd filing of ratification instruments; The agreement entered into force on 30 May and entered its operational phase following a summit on 7 July 2019.  The Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) will create the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries. The pact connects 1.3 billion people in 55 countries for a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on the introduction of meaningful political reforms and trade facilitation. The graph below shows the structure of the agreement for the creation of the AfCFTA.
On July 21, 2018, five other nations signed the agreement, including South Africa. At the time, the Nigerian government stressed that its non-participation was a delay, not a withdrawal, and promised to sign the agreement quickly.  As the Minister of Foreign Affairs had previously pointed out, the Nigerian government intended to continue its discussions with local businesses to ensure the purchase of the agreement by the private sector.  Most AU member states have signed the agreement. Benin, Botswana, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Zambia did not sign the agreement.  Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was particularly reluctant to join if it against Nigerian entrepreneurship and Nigerian industry.  On 7 July 2019, Nigeria and Benin pledged to sign free trade with Africa at the 12th Special Session of the Association`s Assembly on ACFTA; Eritrea is the only country among the 55 member states of the African Union that has not signed the agreement.    After the Kigali Summit, further signatures were affixed to the AfCFTA. At the African Union summit in Nouakchott on 1 July 2018, five other nations, including South Africa, joined the agreement. Kenya and Ghana were the first nations to ratify the agreement and file their ratifications on 10 May 2018.  Of the signatories, 22 had to ratify the agreement in order for it to enter into force, and it happened on 29 April 2019, when Sierra Leone and the Arab Democratic Republic of the Sahara ratified the agreement.
 As a result, the agreement came into force 30 days later on 30 May 2019; At that time, only Benin, Nigeria and Eritrea had not signed.