African leaders are going ahead with the agreement for the proposed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) on Wednesday without Nigeria. The intra-Africa trade deal is expected to raise trade by about 52.3 percent by 2020, according to estimates by United Nations Economic Commission in Africa (UNECA). But with the continent’s biggest market showing cold feet, the deal takes a significant blow.
African heads of state, business leaders and major stakeholders in the trade deal had gathered for the Continental Free Trade Area Business Forum in Kigali on Tuesday. The summit would culminate in the signing of the agreement by each country’s representative on Wednesday.
However, the president of Nigeria, a country which represents about a fourth of the continent’s gross domestic product, had released an official statement on Sunday about his withdrawal from attending the African Union summit in Rwanda. Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to leave Abuja on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s launch but pulled out to allow for more consultations with local businesses and trade organisations.