The African Continental Free Trade Area will officially kick off during the next Extra-Ordinary Heads of State and Government summit slated for 7th July 2019 in Niamey, Niger.
Africa Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat confirmed that he had received two more ratifications from member states, bringing the total number of countries to 22.
The continental body requires 22 member states to deposit their instruments in order for the AfCFTA to take effect.
“With the required 22 ratifications in record time, the world's largest trading bloc is now expected to enter in force by July this year,” Mahamat said via his official Twitter handle.
The AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.
The AfCFTA agreement is expected to create a market for over one billion people, with a GDP of approximately US$2.6 trillion.
The decision to establish the AfCFTA was initially arrived at in the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2012, with a tentative launch date of 2017.
However, Nigeria – Africa's biggest economy – has not ratified the agreement.
Last year, the presidency said it needed to engage in more domestic consultation before committing to such a deal.
Other large economies like South Africa and Egypt have however ratified the deal.
The African Ministers of Trade are scheduled to meet in Kampala, Uganda in the first week of June to review work on the supporting instruments ahead of the Extra Ordinary Summit on the AfCFTA.
Mahamat paid tribute to the Champion of the AfCFTA, Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, for his advocacy to have all AU member states sign and ratify the AfCFTA Agreement.