By July 2019, 54 of the 55 African Union states had signed the agreement, with Eritrea the only country not to have signed it. Of these Member States, 27 have tabled their ratification instruments.  South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Lesotho and Burundi have since signed the AfCFTA at the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott.  Since July 2019, 54 states have signed the agreement.  The second way of looking at free trade zones as public goods is related to the growing trend of becoming “deeper”. The depth of a free trade area refers to the additional types of structural policies it covers. While older trade agreements are considered more “flat” because they cover fewer areas (for example. B tariffs and quotas), recent agreements cover a number of other areas, ranging from e-commerce services and data relocation. Since transactions between parties to a free trade area are relatively cheaper than transactions with non-parties, free trade zones will be considered conventionally excluded. Now that deep trade agreements will improve the harmonization of legislation and increase trade flows with non-parties, thereby reducing the exclusivity of free trade agreements, next-generation free trade zones will take on essential characteristics for public goods. In 1963, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded by the independent states of Africa. The aim of the OAU was to promote cooperation between African states.
The 1980 Lagos Action Plan was adopted by the organization. The plan proposed that Africa minimize its dependence on the West by encouraging intra-African trade. It began with the creation of a number of regional cooperation organizations in different parts of Africa, such as the Conference on the Coordination of Southern African Development. Finally, in 1991, this led to the Abuja Treaty, which founded the African Economic Community, an organization that encouraged the development of free trade zones, customs union, an African Central Bank and a common African monetary union.   Businesses frustrated by trade barriers could use a “non-tariff barrier mechanism” in the agreement to report and demand solutions to trade problems, Muchanga says. Given that the Nigerian government continued to consult with local business groups in the second half of 2018, one of the main concerns was whether the agreement adequately prevented anti-competitive practices such as dumping.  At the close of 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the delay was “regrettable” and stressed the lack of trade in goods between African countries, the difficulties in getting from one African country to another, and the colonial legacy of these restrictions on Africa`s growth.  The government steering committee responsible for the consultation process is expected to release its report on the agreement in January 2019.  The World Bank`s report, The African Continental Free Trade Area: Economic and Distributional Effects, aims to help policy makers implement policies that can maximize the potential benefits of the agreement while minimizing risks.