Africa-Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) came into force on Thursday after clearing a key procedural obstacle and ratified by parliaments in 24 countries.
The Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union, Albert Muchanga, confirmed
in a tweet that the agreement is now in force and that a common market will be launched on 7 July.
So far, 52 countries have signed the agreement. Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, has so far refused to say it should consult with domestic economic stakeholders before making a decision.
President Muhammadu Buhari is now reviewing an impact assessment report to determine whether Africa's most populous nation will join its counterparties at the signing of the agreement.
Once fully implemented, the trade agreement will create a single market for goods and services by removing existing barriers to trade throughout Africa. The agreement is expected to increase regional trade by reducing tariffs and allowing businesses to expand and enter new markets.
However, analysts remain concerned about a long implementation process.
Africa has a large number of regional and national actors with highly divergent trade interests. Many legal details are still being finalized, and experts warn that the enforcement of the agreement will be a challenge.