The Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has announced that trade through the AfCFTA will commence on 1 January 2021. It was initially scheduled to commence on 1 July 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the main focus of the secretariat of the AfCFTA being the fight against the pandemic.
The key focus of the AfCFTA, in the meantime, continues to be the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary General stated that a short-term tool has been devised by the Heads of States to launch trade corridors to enable easy access and transit of essential goods or germ-killing products, such as soaps and disinfectants, that will help combat the pandemic. The African Ministers of Trade are exploring the possibility of reducing customs duties in order to make these essential goods more available and affordable.
The announcement was made at the official handing over and commissioning of the AfCFTA secretariat building in Ghana on 17 August 2020. An official statement was released by the Directorate of Information and Communication of the African Union on 9 September 2020.