Fundamental Lessons From Regional Economic Communities for the African Continental Free Trade Area: A Case Study of the East African Community

In January 2012, the African Union (AU) Heads of States agreed to unite the economies of Africa into a single free trade area. Subsequently, in May 2019, all 55 AU member states apart from Eritrea signed the agreement establishing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA’s objective is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union. Anyanwu 2014 and UNDP 2011 note that the harnessing of regional integration can drive growth and poverty reduction in Africa. Moreover, regional integration exposes domestic producers to regional markets and provides forward and backward linkages to more sophisticated regional value-chains, thus increasing chances of African economies in finding more competitive global market niches. This study has been able to identify the fundamental lessons for successful implementation of the AfCFTA by reviewing the experiences of the EAC as a REC within the continent.