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.  In addition to the negotiations, implementation of the AfCFTA agreement can be difficult in countries that differ significantly in terms of population, geography, economy, resources and economic development. However, the mere fact that the AfCFTA came into force in just over a year`s time is a testament to the commitment of African states to reach a collective agreement.
Another proof is the African Union`s $4.8 million grant to “accelerate the dynamics of AfCFTA.”  There have also been initiatives to connect with the private sector, such as the AfCFTA Regional Trade Forum, among other initiatives to stimulate the entire private sector.  The exact effects of the protocol on investments depend on the content of the protocol, which has yet to be determined.  If the protocol is maintained under other investment agreements recently signed or negotiated in Africa, it will likely seek to adopt a balanced approach between the rights of the investor and the interests of the host state. In March 2018, three separate agreements were signed at the 10th African Union extraordinary meeting on AfCFTA: the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the Kigali Declaration; and the protocol on the free movement of people. The Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons aims to create a visa-free zone within AfCFTA countries and to support the creation of the African Union passport.  At the Kigali Summit on 21 March 2018, 44 countries signed the AfCFTA, 47 signed the Kigali Declaration and 30 signed the protocol on the free movement of persons. Although a success, there were two remarkable holdouts: Nigeria and South Africa, the two largest economies in Africa.    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.    On 21 July 2018, five other nations, including South Africa, signed the agreement.