Forty-four countries initially signed the agreement on March 21, 2018. Nigeria was one of 11 African Union countries to avoid signing the treaty. At the time, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria could do nothing to undermine local producers and entrepreneurs.  The Nigerian Manufacturers` Association, which represents 3,000 Nigerian manufacturers, welcomed the decision to withdraw from the agreement.  Nigeria`s foreign minister tweeted that more internal consultations are needed before Nigeria can sign the agreement.  Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Nigeria`s delay was regrettable.  The Nigerian Labour Congress called the agreement a “renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal political initiative”, suggesting that increased economic pressure would push workers to rush into difficult and precarious conditions.  The Kigali Summit found areas of convergence with trade protocols, dispute settlement procedures, customs cooperation, trade facilitation and rules of origin. This was part of Phase I of the agreement, which deals with the liberalisation of goods and services. There was also a consensus on reducing tariffs to 90% of all goods. Each nation can exclude 3% of the goods from this agreement.  Most AU member states have signed the agreement.
Benin, Botswana, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Zambia did not sign the agreement.  Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was particularly reluctant to join if it against Nigerian entrepreneurship and Nigerian industry.  On 7 July 2019, Nigeria and Benin pledged to sign free trade with Africa at the 12th Special Session of the Association`s Assembly on ACFTA; Eritrea is the only country among the 55 member states of the African Union that has not signed the agreement.    The 12th African Union Extraordinary Meeting on AfCFTA was convened to bring the new agreement into its operational phase, which was held in Niamey on 7 July 2019.   After the Kigali Summit, further signatures were affixed to the AfCFTA. At the African Union summit in Nouakchott on 1 July 2018, five other nations, including South Africa, joined the agreement. Kenya and Ghana were the first nations to ratify the agreement and file their ratifications on 10 May 2018.  Of the signatories, 22 had to ratify the agreement in order for it to enter into force, and it happened on 29 April 2019, when Sierra Leone and the Arab Democratic Republic of the Sahara ratified the agreement.  As a result, the agreement came into force 30 days later on 30 May 2019; At that time, only Benin, Nigeria and Eritrea had not signed.