Once the agreement comes into effect, it will create a tariff-free continent, covering a single market of 1.2 billion people in 55 nations with a combined gross domestic product of about $3 trillion.
It will constitute the largest free trade area globally, according to South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
The agreement is expected to reduce export tariffs which currently average 6.1 percent, and boost intra-African trade by more than 52 percent after import duties are eliminated. It is focused on diversifying trade exports away from just extractives and enhancing the chances of small and medium enterprises to tap into more regional destinations.
Economists say that tariff-free access to a huge and unified market will encourage manufacturers and service providers to leverage economies of scale.