In March this year, the leaders of 44 African countries endorsed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Since then more countries, including South Africa, have joined in.
Th agreement is expected to favour small and medium-size businesses, usually known by the acronym SMEs, which are responsible for more than 80% of Africa’s employment and 50% of its GDP.
Obviously, any economic policy that facilitates imports and exports among member countries – with lower or no tariffs, free access to the market and market information, and the elimination of trade barriers – offers numerous benefits to SMEs. And as history’s largest free trade agreement, which has a market size in the region of $3 trillion, most people are excited at the development. But skeptics have pointed to impending challenges, especially those which affect SMEs. These must be addressed if the AfCFTA is to achieve its objectives. But first, let’s look at who stands to gain.