President Cyril Ramaphosa has handed over South Africa's deposit of instruments on the ratification of the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The development came after Parliament in December ratified the agreement of the establishment of the AfCFTA. The agreement will come into effect once 22 member states have deposited their instruments of ratification.
South Africa, alongside Senegal, Sierra Leonne, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, who will also deposit their instruments, brings the number of countries that have ratified the agreement to 17.
President Ramaphosa handed the deposits to AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The President said he was handing over the deposits as mandated by the people of South Africa and authorised by the country's Parliament.
"We do so willingly having been mandated to do, becoming one of those African states who have now signed to become full participants of the Africa Free Trade. We therefore deposit this instrument with great pride and joy," President Ramaphosa said.
"It creates opportunities for all of us as Africans."
He said the AfCFTA not only opens up a market of 1.2 billion people but also offers great opportunity for the South African economy.
"It opens opportunities for economic development and infrastructure progress for all the other countries on the African continent. We are very pleased that the AU has seen it correct to move the continent in this direct so that all countries can progress economically and in other ways," the President said.
President Ramaphosa thanked Faki Mahamat for his leadership and all the work that has been done to bring to existence this free trade area.
"As South Africa we will participate with great commitment and enthusiasm," he said.