Report: Rwanda most committed to AfCFTA

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in a cheerful mood after the launch of AfCFTA on March 21, 2018 in Kigali. According to a new report, published by the AfroChampions Initiative, Rwanda tops the continent on the commitment to the landmark trade deal while it ranks second, after South Africa, on the readiness for implementation of the framework. / Photo: File.

Rwanda is the country most committed to the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, a new report, dubbed, The AfCFTA Year Zero Report, has said.

The study, which offers a baseline of the continent’s readiness for the start of trade under a continental framework, was published by The AfroChampions Initiative, which was launched by African leaders in January 2017.


The initiative, also known as the Afrochampions, is a special implementation vehicle for major, innovative, public-private partnerships to harness big opportunities in Africa for transforming the continent’s best companies and institutions into globally significant players.


The report shows which countries are the most committed to the AfCFTA process, and which ones have the best implementation readiness in terms of trade-infrastructure, customs efficiency and access to credit.


Cross-border cargo trucks at Rusumo border last week. The AfCFTA is expected to boost intra continental trade  and drive job creation. Photo: Olivier Mugwiza

Rwanda scored 83.93 per cent on the commitment scale.c

The least committed country is Eritrea with a score of 0.85 per cent, according to the report.

Eastern and West African countries swept all the top nine positions of the most committed countries, with the highest ranked country outside the two regions coming in 10th.

Top 10 countries named

Apart from Rwanda, three other Eastern African countries in the top 10 include Uganda (4th), Kenya (7th), and Djibouti (9th).

The five West African countries in the top 10 include Mali (2nd), Togo (3rd), Ghana (5th), Niger (6th) and Senegal (8th).

Sao Tome and Principe (10th), from Central Africa, completes the top 10.

Notably, not a single country from Southern or North Africa was deemed committed enough to make the top 10.

“Rwanda is number one in terms of commitment to AfCFTA, and number two in implementation readiness,” Michael Kottoh, head of strategy and research at Afrochampions, told The New Times.

“When we combined commitment and readiness assessments, Rwanda came top of the ranking of the 55 states.”

Kottoh explained that they found that some countries were highly committed but lacked implementation readiness.

Others, he said, had high implementation capacity but weren’t very committed.

South Africa ‘most ready’

South Africa scored the highest in terms of implementation readiness, with 68 per cent, followed by Rwanda, at 67.8 per cent.

South Sudan was found to be the most ill-prepared country.

“Rwanda shows that it is possible to be both highly committed and ready for implementation. We need more countries to be both committed and implementation ready. Rwanda has shown that it’s possible.”

He said the purpose of the readiness rankings was to pre-assess trade facilitation capacities of all countries regardless of when they join actual AfCFTA trading.

The analysis therefore includes even the countries that have yet to ratify the deal.

The overall average commitment level of the continent to AfCFTA is at 44.48 per cent; and its overall implementation readiness level is at 49.15 per cent.

Richard Adu-Gyamfi, the Research and Technical Advisor at Afrochampions, observed that Rwanda shows “pragmatic leadership which tows the citizenry in line.”

“This behaviour of Rwanda is a great lesson for the entire continent to back signatures with action.”

Regarding what should be done given low readiness and COVID-19 pandemic, the authors underscore that “low readiness is not a good reason to delay Start of Trade” on July 1, 2020 as set.

Rather, they add, Start of Trade is what is needed to improve readiness – because countries will only accelerate their readiness when trading takes off.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has cast a state of uncertainty over the feasibility of African countries start to trade with each other under the AfCFTA arrangement in July.

Signed in Kigali on March 21, 2018, the AfCFTA deal, under which African nations seek to create the world’s largest free trade zone, came into force on May 30, 2019.

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