African Union (AU) Chairperson and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) speaks with African leaders on DR Congo election at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on January 17, 2019. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

With 18 of the continent’s required 22 states almost having completed the processes for the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, chances are that the President Paul Kagame chairmanship of the African Union Council of Heads of States which was expected to come to a close in January, may have established firm foundations for delivering on the promise of inaugurating the world’s largest free trade area in the next few weeks.

The treaty, whose open endorsement process formally began in Kigali, Rwanda in March, 2018, has presently been signed by 49 of the continent’s 55 states at two summits of Africa’s heads of states held in Kigali and Nouakchott in March and July, 2018.

However, there are accompanying provisions for ratification by the national parliaments of the respective nations as well as the formal depositing of the instruments of endorsement at the African Union Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

At the close of January, nine states had completed the three required phases. They are Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, e-swatini (formerly Swaziland), Guinea, Uganda and Cote D’Ivoire.

On February 1, another West African nation, Mali became the 10th African nation to complete all of the required processes when it delivered its instruments of ratification to the AU Secretariat at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

On their part, South Africa and Mauritania have scaled the second hurdle of parliamentary consent while Sierra Leone, Senegal, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo are said to already be on track to secure parliamentary approvals for the treaty shortly.

The island of Djibouti is also one other nation that is reported as having commenced internal parliamentary discussions on the treaty after its President had assented to it.

Analysts believe that the processes in these nations and at least four others would have been concluded by the time of the next Council of Heads of States Summit billed to hold in the next few days.

Egyptian President, Al-Sisi was billed to take over from Kagame as the next Chairperson of the Assembly of Heads of States of the Union.

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