For proponents of an independent, integrated and resilient Africa, 2019 will go down as one of the most pivotal years in recent history.
All but one of the 55 African states have already signed up to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, a bold attempt at borderless trade.
According to research by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca), implementation of AfCFTA could see intraregional trade in Africa grow to $70 billion annually just by the removal of tariffs. Equally, intraregional trade could account for half of exports by 2040, from the current 17 per cent.
While they may look like cold figures on paper, in the real world they could translate into improved livelihoods, healthier populations and higher levels of advancement on the continent.
As is often said, however, the devil is in the details. AfCFTA is unique in the sense that its objectives go beyond boosting of trade, to creating the conditions that instil a durable culture of openness and intercultural intercourse.
To achieve this, it is complemented by other initiatives such as the protocol of free movement of people, right to residence and establishment as well as the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).