President Jacob Zuma on Sunday launched Africa's biggest free trade bloc aimed
at enhancing cooperation between 26 nations to boost economies in the world's
poorest and underdeveloped continent.
"There is no single country that can prosper on its
own," Zuma said at the launch of the initiative that will see three
sometimes overlapping trade blocs join to create a $875bn market.
"The free trade area will certainly help us accelerate
regional integration efforts aimed at ensuring that African countries trade
with each other on better terms," he told African leaders attending the
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), East
African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
(COMESA) will now work as a joint bloc.
The agreement will include about half the continent's
nations but economic disparities and political instability in countries like
Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Libya and Sudan are possible hurdles towards improved
Inefficient bureaucracies, poor infrastructure, tariff
barriers and weak supply chains are further challenges.