44 countries initially signed the agreement on 21 March 2018. Nigeria was one of 11 African Union countries that avoided a first signature. At the time, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria could do nothing that could undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs.  The Nigerian Manufacturers Association, which represents 3,000 Nigerian manufacturers, welcomed the decision to withdraw from the agreement.  Nigeria`s foreign minister tweeted that further domestic policy consultations were needed before Nigeria could sign the agreement.  Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Nigeria`s delay was regrettable.  The Nigerian Labour Congress called the agreement a “renewed neoliberal political initiative, extremely dangerous and radioactive” and suggested that increased economic pressure would push workers to migrate under difficult and uncertain conditions.  He is right. The EU`s common market was conceived in 1950; But countries like Bulgaria and Romania did not become members until 2007, 57 years later.
The new market, created under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, is estimated at 1.3 billion people in Africa, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion. This could lift up to 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. The AfCFTA was designed as a multi-stage process, which means that the agreement will evolve over time and further negotiations are planned. The first phase, which covers trade in goods and services, entered into force this year, although discussions on finalising tariff plans and rules of origin provisions for Phase 1 have not yet been completed. On January 1, 2021, about 100 days ago this month, free trade officially began under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Four days later, two Ghanaian companies became pioneering exporters of products that took advantage of afCFTA preferences, marking an important milestone in the short but turbulent history of the trade pact. Several committees have been established on trade in goods, trade in services, rules of origin, support measures, non-tariff barriers, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.  Dispute resolution rules and procedures are still under negotiation, but will likely include the designation of a dispute resolution body.  The Committee of Senior Trade Officials implements the Council`s decisions.
The Committee is responsible for drawing up programmes and action plans for the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.  Agenda 2063 is the continent-wide political roadmap that includes “inclusive growth and sustainable development” and an “integrated continent”. It is currently the subject of its first implementation plan, scheduled for completion in 2023, which includes the completion of the AfCFTA and a number of other trade-related objectives. This includes the goal of doubling intra-continent trade by next year compared to 2015. Trade in technology services is a particularly relevant priority for all African countries adapting to a post-pandemic virtual reality. Currently, services traded between African countries are mainly limited to the transport sector. Other notable sectors that offer trade in services include energy, financial services, infrastructure development and tourism. These are largely contained between the main economic centers of the continent: South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria. In contrast, global trade in services is oriented towards the information and communication technology and finance sectors. At the African Union summit in Nouakchott on 1 July 2018, five other countries joined the agreement, including South Africa. Kenya and Ghana were the first countries to ratify the agreement and complete ratification on 10 September.
May 2018.  Of the signatories, 22 had to ratify the agreement for it to enter into force, and this happened on April 29, 2019, when Sierra Leone and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic ratified the agreement.  As a result, the agreement entered into force 30 days later, on 30 May 2019; At that time, only Benin, Nigeria and Eritrea had not yet signed. Outstanding issues such as trade agreements and rules of origin are still under negotiation. [When?] The World Bank`s report, The African Continental Free Trade Area: Economic and Distributional Effects, is designed to help policymakers implement measures that can maximize the potential gains of the agreement while minimizing risks. .