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Is Africa ready for the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area?

Africa is a continent of immense contrasts. It has vast reserves of natural resources but suffers from severe economic inequality. Nevertheless, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) has brought some cause for optimism as it presents an important opportunity for economic transformation across the continent. Yet, such development must be coupled with clear forms of regulation if we are to attain the primary goal of boosting intra-African trade and creating an economic bonanza for all.

CFTA, an initiative of the Heads of State of the African Union members, aims at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments. Indeed, a grouping of 54 countries with a combined population of over one billion people and gross domestic product estimated at over USD 3.4 trillion makes Africa a formidable force in international trade.

For the CFTA to succeed, it is vital that fundamental policies are aligned and implemented uniformly across member states. Such policies include implementation of a visa-free Africa, a strong collaboration of the tax authorities especially on disclosure of information, harmonisation of taxes such as import taxes, elimination of non-tariff barriers and implementation of uniform transfer pricing policies.

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