SA among 40 countries to sign Kigali declaration

There was hearty applause in the conference hall of the Kigali Convention Centre as President Ramaphosa stepped up to sign the Kigali Declaration on behalf of SA.

President Cyril Ramaphosa attends a meeting of the 18th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council in Kigali, Rwanda. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter.

[Editor's Note] A previous version of this story referred to the Continental Free Trade Deal. What President Cyril Ramaphosa signed was actually the Kigali Declaration.

KIGALI - President Cyril Ramaphosa was one of more than 40 heads of African Union member states that have signed an agreement that would lead to the continent being a free trade zone.

The signing ceremony marked the end of four days of deliberations on the fine print.

There was hearty applause in the conference hall of the Kigali Convention Centre as President Ramaphosa stepped up to sign the Kigali Declaration on behalf of South Africa.

South Africa is one of 40 countries to sign the declaration, which now must be ratified by 22-member states by January 2019 to come into effect.

But some of the bigger countries, like South Africa, said the ratification process might need more time.

The declaration is meant to boost trade between African countries and to encourage local beneficiation and manufacturing.

Nigeria is one of the dozen countries which did not sign.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari did not arrive in Kigali after unhappiness by businesspeople back home about the agreement.