The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), launched on January 1, 2021 has been hailed as a “game changer.” By bringing together 55 countries – with a total population of 1.3 billion and a combined GDP of USD3.4 trillion – in a single market, many believe AfCFTA could fuel Africa’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, spur structural transformation, and drive rapid industrialization. The World Bank estimates that trade integration could raise Africa’s income by 7Pct by 2035, lifting 30 million people out of extreme poverty.
Those are lofty expectations. Unfortunately, lowering trade barriers alone will not enable Africa to fulfil them.

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