African leaders agreed to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people.
Its two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, did not sign up, diminishing its impact.
The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states.
This is in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a measly 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce.
Rwandan president Paul Kagame, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months.
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