The African Continental Free Trade Area will enter into force during the next African Union Summit slated for Niamey, Niger, in July. Photo: Supplied (Katlholo Maifadi/DNS)

JOHANNESBURG - The African Continental Free Trade Area will enter into force during the next African Union Summit slated for Niamey, Niger, in July, the East African reported on Tuesday.

Twenty African Union (AU) member-states have ratified the agreement and deposited the necessary instruments, according to Dr Halima Noor Abdi, a senior official of the African Union Commission (AUC).

However, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, who ratified the AfCFTA this month, have not yet deposited instruments for the ratification at the AUC, said Abdi.

The AfCFTA brings together a continental single market, which is expected to increase intra-African trade by 52 percent come 2022, remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods, liberalise services and tackle other barriers to intra-African trade.

The agreement will come into force 30 days after the 22nd ratification has been deposited with the AUC. Other AU member states may accede to the agreement after it comes into force.

Last week the agreement was ratified by Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, eSwatini, Ethiopia Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Uganda.

Kenya was the first EAC partner state to sign and ratify the agreement. Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan have signed the agreement, but are yet to ratify it.

With the exception of Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria, all the remaining 52 AU member states have signed the agreement.

- African News Agency (ANA)