The setting up by the African Union of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which should govern matters relating to inter alia, trade in goods and services, investment, trade facilitation, intellectual property rights and competition policy is a step in the right direction. However, using insights from a qualitative study of ICBTs in the Southern African region, this paper argues that, the limited inclusion of the informal economy actors such as the Informal Cross Border Traders (ICBTs) appears to undermine the potential of the AfCFTA as an architecture for inclusive socio-economic development in Africa. The paper advances the need for African countries to craft policies which are sensitive to and respond to the circumstances of ordinary people on the ground and not a wholesale application of policies such as neoclassical integration theory, the outcome of which deserts ordinary people. Such policies must be transcendental to the extent of being informed by views from the ground, which does not appear to be the case with the AfCFTA on the score of ICBTs.
Mots clés : African Union,|AfCFTA|informal cross border trade|development