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Dispute Settlement Mechanism, African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, WTO, Trade Disputes


The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) will add a new dispute settlement system to the plethora of judicial mechanisms designed to resolve trade disputes in Africa. Against the discontent of Member States and limited impact the existing highly legalized trade dispute settlement mechanisms have had on regional economic integration in Africa, this paper undertakes a preliminary assessment of the AfCFTA Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM). In particular, the paper situates the AfCFTA-DSM in the overall discontent and unsupportive practices of African States with highly legalized dispute settlement systems and similar WTO-Styled DSMs among other shortcomings. Notwithstanding the transplantation of the WTO-Styled DSM, the paper argues that the Consultation Phase, offers the AfCFTA Member States a realistic chance of engaging with the DSM. In addition, the paper highlights other factors such as private sector involvement, strategic operationalisation of the DSM, geopolitical and power dynamics as critical to the success of the dispute settlement system.


This is a pre-print of an article published in African Journal of International and Comparative Law. The final authenticated version is available online at:

Publication Abbreviation

Afr J Intl Comp L