President Cyril Ramaphosa is in the Rwandan capital, Kigali ahead of the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on Wednesday.
The trade agreement will create a market of one billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion.
South Africa is backing the deal, saying it will ease the movement of people, goods and people across the continent.
Ramaphosa arrived in Kigali on Tuesday.
The United Nations Economics Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that if implemented the agreement will increase intra African trade by 53% in the next four years.
International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says, “We have to think about African first; create an African market and that our natural resources support us. We have calculated.”
After the signing of the agreement on Wednesday, individual countries will have to ratify the legal framework for the agreement before it can take effect.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame says, “It’s a question of how fast we are moving, and we should be moving as fast as possible, but I think the direction we have taken is the right one.”
The agreement will ease duty free flow of goods and services across all 55 member states of the African Union.
The prospect of an African internal market, a buy-in for African investors .
Challenges, however, remain. There are already fears that the benefits of the agreements will not be for all.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, the continent’s biggest economy cancelled his trip to Kigali and urged for more consultations.
About 46 countries are expected to sign in on, what is eventually expected to lead to an African Customs Union.