Nigeria has submitted the instrument of ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area to the African Union, making it the 34th AfCFTA state party.

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The Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union Commission, Ambassador Albert Muchanga, on Saturday, confirmed receiving the instrument of ratification from the Head of Mission and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the AU, Richards Adejola.

He said the continent was ready to deliver a commercially-viable continental market on January 1, 2021.

Meanwhile, at the 13th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on the AfCFTA on Saturday, African Union heads of state and government underscored the urgent need for member states to kick-start trading activities, under the AfCFTA.

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The Chairperson of AU, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, said the free trade opportunity was going to be the clearest affirmation that Africa was determined to take charge of its own destiny, and that its success and development was fundamentally tied to harnessing the potential and energies of its citizens.

The Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, called on AU member states to aggressively implement the AfCFTA as one of the tools for effecting a fundamental structural transformation of Africa’s economy and placing Africa on a path of long-term industrial development.

He said, “Women in trade, young Africans and SMEs, confront significant challenges when attempting to benefit from trade agreements.”

He added that for the AfCFTA to be inclusive and to ensure shared growth across the continent, women, young Africans and SMEs had to be at the heart of its implementation.