WINDHOEK-- Namibia has signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement with reservations amidst feelings that countries merely sign treaties for the sake of signing, with little implementation thereafter, says President Hage Geingob.

Speaking at Windhoek's Eros Airport after he arrived back in the country Saturday from visits to Nigeria and Mauritania, where he attended the 31st African Union (AU) Summit. he said: "We signed the continental trade agreement although we have some reservations because we have the SADC (Southern African Development Community) Free Trade Area. We have the Tripartite Free Trade Area, are we implementing it?."

Another thorny issue for the Head of State is the 0.2 per cent levy on imports which Namibia has to pay to the AU as part of the AfCFTA. If things go the AU way, Namibia, because of its classification as an upper middle-income country, will be expected to pay around 4.0 million US dollars to the AU instead of 2.0 million USD, Geingob explained.

The president said he believes Namibia's classification as an upper middle-income country is to its detriment.

"We also registered how we like to push things through, like the 0.2 per cent levy on imports. We told them we are a small open country. We just decide things, but when you look at the details, you can see there are mistakes," he said.

He said Namibia's dross domestic product (GDP) does not correlate with the situation on the ground. "[Due to the GDP] you get a high per capita income. Therefore, you are a rich country, nobody cares about the distribution of wealth if you are going to be assessed," he explained.

He said the AU is reconsidering the levy Namibia has to pay for participating in the AfCFTA instead of relying on GDP figures, Geingob noted.

During the AU summit, Geingob reminded fellow African leaders that Namibia is one of the most unequal societies in the world, which he attributed to successive colonial regimes.

The AfCFTA covers five priority service sub-sectors -- transportation, communication, financial, tourism and commerce. During the summit, Namibia and four more countries joined the AfCFTA, including one of the biggest economies on the continent, South Africa. The other new signatories to the agreement are Burundi, Sierra Leone and Lesotho.

In total, 49 countries have now signed the AfCFTA agreement and six have ratified it. Sixteen more ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force.