The Allegory of the African Continental Free Trade Area; An Optimistic Prescription?
The African Continental Free Trade Area is an initiative aimed at establishing an economic block across the African continent, drawing parallels with the antecedent of the European Community, which pioneered economic activities and integration in Europe prior to its full assimilation into the broader framework of the European Union in 2009. The intention of this paper is to uncover potential opportunities while also illuminating possible obstacles that, if not adeptly managed, could impede the trajectory of economic integration in the promising African continent. The choice of an allegorical title is deliberate, aligning with the nuanced points this paper seeks to underscore, derived from a series of observations, although infused with substantial optimism. This study examines the potential influence of structural, contextual, and operational dynamics, predominantly observed within many African countries, on the outcomes of major integration initiatives and its associated goals. Drawing insights from the experiences of other nations and continental economic alliances, the analysis assesses how these shared dynamics may condition and shape the consequences of this landmark integration decision. Notably, the emphasis shifts from the investigation itself to the prospective impacts of integration, as informed by empirical evidences and contextual considerations. Key dimensions such as capital accumulation, labor growth, and increase in productivity emerge as critical factors in reinforcement of the quest for sustainable economic growth.