EDITORIAL: Pray more African leaders learn to open their eyes at last

Togo this week gave Africa a much needed Christmas present when it ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) becoming the 15th country to do so. Now only seven more ratifications for the agreement remain for it to enter into force.

It has been a slow and perplexing march toward a common market that common sense could have convinced countries that are still holding out that it was their only salvation. But that seems not to be the case and many are still held hostage by paranoia and a misled sense of sovereignty.

The whole ACFTA affair – from the negotiations to the signing in Kigali - gave people a rare glimpse as to why many African countries are still stuck in what could be described as the middle age. Villages then were well fenced and defended against neighbouring settlements. Suspicion was the driving force.

It is only when they were unified through conquest by a stronger leader accompanied by one common set of rules that peace and prosperity settled in. ACFTA is that missing set of rules that will trigger prosperity.

Some would argue that before trying to bring the whole continent to adopt the trade deal, countries should first bring their houses in order.

Regional trading blocs, such as the East African Community, should first conform to a set of principals which is not the case at the moment. When some member states adopt the variable geometry principle while others are still dragging their feet, then something is not right.

The journey is still long and there is no guarantee that when the 22 signatures needed to bring the ACFTA agreement into force are attained, it will be respected. All we have to do is to wait, pray and hope that African leaders will learn to look at the larger picture and not petty issues.