Nigeria was one of the last nations to sign the agreement. With a population of 200 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has about 98 million inhabitants in the most populous countries, Ethiopia and Egypt. With a nominal GDP of $376 billion, or about 17% of Africa`s GDP, it is just ahead of South Africa, which accounts for 16% of the African economy. Given that Nigeria is such an important country in terms of population and economy, its absence at the first signing of the agreement was particularly striking. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted this in his comments of 12 July 2018, commenting: “The continent awaits Nigeria and South Africa. Through trade between us, we are able to maintain more resources on the continent. South Africa signed the agreement later.  Whatever its historical significance, more needs to be done before countries can benefit from a free trade area. Countries committed to the agreement are expected to present their timetables for concessions for trade in goods and services by next year. Concession schedules outline products and services that countries will no longer tax. EU trade aid supports AfCFTA`s objectives, for example in West Africa, where a EUR 92 million programme aims to increase competitiveness and trade by using regional trade opportunities and creating a safe trading environment for small traders, especially traders. AfCFTA is the African continent`s most ambitious integration initiative, enshrined in the African Union`s Agenda 2063, whose main objective is to create a single continental market for goods and services with the free movement of people and investment, thereby expanding intra-African trade across the continent, strengthening competitiveness and supporting the economic transition in Africa.
South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Lesotho and Burundi have since signed afCFTA at the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott.  Since July 2019, 54 states have signed the agreement.  The graph below shows the structure of the AfCFTA constitution agreement. Maria Filipa Seara e Pereira advises the World Bank in the Trade Regional Integration Unit (ETIRI). It focuses on international trade and international development issues, including modelling, trade policy, trade distribution effects and global value chains. Roberto Echandi is the senior private sector specialist at ETIRI. It focuses on research and policy advice on issues related to cross-border trade in services, negotiations, implementation and maximizing the potential benefits of deep integration trade agreements and the AfCFTA negotiation and implementation process. By July 2019, 54 of the 55 African Union states had signed the agreement, with Eritrea the only country not to have signed it.
Of these Member States, 27 have tabled their ratification instruments.   Trudi Hartzenberg, Executive Director of the Trade Law Centre, a South African-based think tank, says that while the free trade area could significantly improve competitiveness and promote intra-African trade, it also requires “strong leadership and technical capabilities to help Member States in future negotiations….