Road to CFTA: 26 Heads of State have confirmed attendance of Kigali summit

At least 26 heads of state and government are expected in Kigali next week for the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo confirmed this in a news conference held in Kigali ahead of the extraordinary African Union Summit slated for Kigali next week.

The agreement which was over the weekend approved by African Ministers of Trade and Commerce seeks to make Africa the largest free-trade area in the world with 54 member states and over 1 billion citizens.

The draft agreement will this week be reviewed by ministers of justice from across the continent to ensure legal consistency before being submitted to ministers of Foreign Affairs prior to the assent by the heads of state on March 21.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said that Kigali was warming up for the summit with most plans already made in readiness for expected guests.

She called on cooperation of residents of Kigali during the summit noting that there was likely to be a few inconveniences to ordinary citizens during the time, especially for motorists, owing to the many high level delegations that will be in the country.

The CFTA signing which is slated for 21st of March will be preceded by a business summit on 20th of March that will feature members of the private sector of the continent and top government officials including heads of states.

The Continental Free Trade Area is a continental geographic zone where goods and services are supposed to move with no restrictions among member states.

 Once established, there shall be no administrative barriers at any country’s borders in regards to movement of goods and services.

The CFTA aims to achieve a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among member states covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.