The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has completed its first month of trade and began early in the new year. The emerging and large-scale trade area will be closely monitored given its size, size and potential impact on development, as well as its importance to existing regional communities and trade relations with other partners. The AfCFTA is the most ambitious integration initiative on the African continent, enshrined in the African Union`s Agenda 2063, whose main objective is to create a continental single market for goods and services with the free movement of people and investment, thereby expanding intra-African trade across the continent, improving competitiveness and supporting economic change in Africa. Infrastructure development is also key to addressing the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. Most AU member states have signed the agreement. Benin, Botswana, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Zambia did not initially sign the agreement.  Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was particularly reluctant to join when it hurt Nigerian entrepreneurship and industry.  On July 7, 2019, Nigeria and Benin committed to sign African free trade through ACFTA at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union; Eritrea is the only one of the 55 member States of the African Union that has not signed the agreement.    The Bank anticipates that the agreement could help lift an additional 30 million people out of extreme poverty and 68 million people out of moderate poverty. The AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-African trade from a current level of about 13 per cent to 25 per cent or more through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization. This is motivated by the complementary African domestic aviation market and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons. The official start of trade was officially endorsed at an extraordinary meeting in December 2020, during which AU Member States called on „women, youth, business, trade unions, civil society, cross-border traders, universities, the African diaspora and other stakeholders to join them as governments in this historic effort to create `the Africa we want` in line with Agenda 2063. In addition to signing the creation of the AfCFTA and the accompanying Kigali Declaration, 30 African countries have signed the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, which aims to establish a visa-free zone in afCFTA countries.
However, the main signatories to the AfCFTA, Nigeria and South Africa, have not signed the protocol and the political will to do so is lacking. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement 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 with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) worth $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 implementation of important policy reforms and trade facilitation measures. Physical constraints on conducting business during global lockdowns have made negotiations and due diligence difficult for all negotiators, but virtual conference call services have done much to address logistical challenges and have given the parties the opportunity to continue negotiations effectively. Africa`s new virtual trade platform is a service that has been of great use in speeding up negotiations in vast regions and is home to many different cultures, languages and legal frameworks. Its effective use lays the foundation for more effective cross-border negotiations in many other Africa-wide trade and trade initiatives. .