Africa: 27 African States Sign Pact for Free Movement of People

Photo: New Times
Forty-four countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area, 43 inked the Kigali Declaration, while 27 countries adopted the protocol on free movement of persons.

Kenya is among 27 countries that have just signed a protocol allowing for free movement of people and the right to live and own land anywhere in Africa.

It means Kenyans can live across Africa and enjoy the same status as if they were back home, opening doors for employment.

The countries Wednesday signed the protocol to the treaty establishing the African economic community dubbed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) in Kigali, Rwanda.

"The promise of free trade and free movement is prosperity for all Africans because we are prioritising the production of value-added goods and services that are made in Africa," Rwandan President Paul Kagame who is also the African Union chairman said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the 27 heads of state who signed the treaty.

However, Burundi, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau and Eritrea did not sign the protocol.

AfCTA targets to create the world's largest single market of 1.2 billion people and GDP of $3.4 trillion (Sh340 trillion).

For businesses, it commits governments to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods produced within the continent and phase out the rest over time.

Another 17 countries said they would ratify AfCTA partially without allowing for free trade but not movement and residency of people from other countries.

Countries now have to ratify the CFTA agreement at national level within six months, that is, by September this year. Those that did not sign can also do so within the same period.

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