The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)  is a free trade area that has 28 countries as of 2018.     It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement between 54 of the 55 nations of the African Union.  The free trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the creation of the World Trade Organization.  Accra, Ghana, is the secretariat of the AFCFTA and was mandated in Accra on August 18, 2020 by the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo Addo, in Accra and handed over to the AU. On July 21, 2018, five other nations, including South Africa, signed the agreement. At the time, the Nigerian government stressed that its non-participation was a delay and not a withdrawal, and promised to sign the agreement soon.  As previously pointed out by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian government intended to continue to consult with local companies in order to obtain private sector agreement.  The SAFCFTA Secretariat will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement and will be an autonomous body within the AU system. Although it has an independent legal personality, it works closely with the AU Commission and receives its budget from the AU.
The Council of Ministers responsible for trade decides on the location of the head office, structure, role and competences.  The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union is the supreme decision-making body. It will likely meet at AU summits.  The Council of Ministers responsible for trade oversees strategic trade policy and ensures the effective implementation and enforcement of the AfCFTA Agreement.  As of July 2019, 54 of the 55 African Union states had signed the agreement, with Eritrea being the only country not to sign it. Of these Member States, 27 have deposited their instruments of ratification.   Eritrea was not part of the original agreement due to a persistent state of war, but the 2018 peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea ended the conflict and ended the barrier to Eritrea`s participation in the free trade agreement.      The unrecenized state of Somaliland did not participate in the discussions on the creation of the agreement. The 12th Extraordinary Meeting of the African Union on the AfCFTA was convened to bring the new agreement into its operational phase, which was held in Niamey on 7 July 2019.   Most AU member states have signed the agreement.
Initially, Benin, Botswana, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Zambia did not sign the agreement.  Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was particularly reluctant when it harmed Nigerien entrepreneurship and Nigerian industry.  On July 7, 2019, Nigeria and Benin committed to signing free trade in Africa at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Trade Union Assembly on ACFTA; Eritrea is the only nation among the 55 member States of the African Union that has not signed the agreement.    Gabon has been a founding member of the WTO since 1995. . . .