Africa Tries Free Trade

Economic nationalism has plagued Africa since decolonization. In 2021, that is set to change.

On January 1, the long-awaited African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into effect. Aside from the economic benefits that the arrangement will bring to the continent, Africa’s newfound support for free trade and liberalization marks a clear rejection of the socialist ideology that has tormented African politics for decades.

As it stands, 36 of the 55 African Union (A.U.) nations, including the regional economic powerhouses of Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt (which together make up a third of the continent’s economy), have ratified the free trade area. Another 18 nations have indicated their support by signing the trade agreement and are expected to become full members soon. So strong is the appetite for free trade in Africa that Eritrea—often dubbed “Africa’s Hermit Kingdom”—is the only nation on the continent that remains reluctant to support the agreement…..

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