ADDIS ABABA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Thursday urged African experts and scholars to support the effective realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) through quality research outcomes.
Andrew Mold, acting director of ECA's Eastern Africa office, made the remarks as only three more ratifications are expected for the African continental free trade pact to become effective, eventually creating a single trading space for Africa's close to 1.2 billion population.
The regional director also called on African experts "to produce good and high-quality research papers to inform policymakers and help move the agreement forward," the ECA quoted Mold as saying on Thursday.
"The CFTA may give the impression that the agreement is simply about free trade, but in reality it is much more ambitious than that," Mold said, adding that "it is about creating a continental market."
"It is about free movement of people and free movement of goods and services, it is about protocols on government procurement and intellectual property," Mold stressed.
Mold said with the ratification of the CFTA approaching, policymakers will need high-quality policy advice and researches on the potential implications for their economies and where the opportunities reside, as well as where there may be potential vulnerabilities that need addressing.
The continental free trade pact, which requires a minimum of 22 ratifications to enter into force, has so far been ratified by 19 countries.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that the free trade agreement "stands only weeks away from entry into force, thanks to the accelerating pace of ratification," during the 32nd African Union (AU) assembly summit held last month.
Kagame commended Guinea-Bissau for signing the instrument during the 32nd AU assembly summit, which became the latest signatory of the continental pact.
"We encourage those signatories who have not yet ratified to do so at the earliest opportunity," he said.
The CFTA was signed in March 2018 at a summit in the Rwandan city of Kigali. The free trade area will be formally established once it is ratified by 22 countries.