The African Union (AU) is to hold another summit in Mauritania in July where countries with reservations on signing the African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA) agreement can make their choice.
On Wednesday, leaders of 44 African countries signed the deal on establishing the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda.
AfCFTA will bring together all the 55-member countries of the African union to trade tariff free.
Nigeria’s government earlier pulled out of the signing for further consultations with unions that fear job losses.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali declaration subject to the conclusion of all outstanding issues that form an integral part of the agreement outstanding issues.
Ramaphosa made it clear that South Africa wants to be part of the trade bloc.
“As far as we are concerned as South Africa, we are very part of this agreement. We want free trade in Africa. Nigeria did not sign because they needed to go through a consultation process. With 44 countries that have signed this agreement, its ushering in a new era of free trade,” says Ramaphosa.
The signing has been described as historic and a new dawn for Africa.
It comes after 55 years since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and 16 years since the formation of the AU.
Leaders at the summit say this brings the continent closer to the dream of integration.
The agreement will create a market of 1 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 Trillion.