The agreement was negotiated by the African Union (AU) and signed on 21 March 2018 by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda.   The agreement first requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to goods, goods and services across the continent.  The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022.  The proposal is expected to enter into force 30 days after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.  On 2 April 2019, The Gambia became the 22nd state to ratify the Convention and on 29 April, the Sahrawi Republic tabled the 22nd filing of ratification instruments; The agreement entered into force on 30 May and entered its operational phase following a summit on 7 July 2019.  The first phase of trade negotiations should have begun in early July. According to Sebahizi, the summit was postponed until December and the start of free trade was postponed until early 2021. The Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries. The pact connects 1.3 billion people in 55 countries for a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on the introduction of meaningful political reforms and trade facilitation.
The African Continental Free Trade Area only came into force when 22 of the signatory countries ratified the agreement, which took place in April 2019, when The Gambia was the 22nd country to ratify it.  In August 2020, there are 54 signatories, of which at least 30 have ratified and 28 have tabled their ratification instruments.    The three countries that have ratified their ratifications but have not yet tabled are Cameroon, Angola and Somalia, although Morocco is also ratified.   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.