7 September 2017

East Africa: Non-Domestication of Comesa Treaty Challenging Commission

Livingstone — A delay by some of the 19 member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries to domesticate the COMESA treaty and competition regulations has impeded the effective enforcement of competition regulations at member states level, a top official at the COMESA Competition Commission (CCC) said recently.

George K. Lipimile, Director & Chief Executive Officer at the COMESA Competition Commission said the weak national competition enforcement regimes in member states coupled with inadequate financial resources to effectively implement programmes at both national and regional levels , and inadequate manpower to effectively implement the competition mandate at both regional and national levels are other challenges the CCC still stands prepared to face in today's marketplace as a champion for consumers and competition.

"The lack of a competition culture in the common market and lack of a culture of compliance by both the member states and firms in the common market are some other key challenges the commission is facing," said Lipimile.

Lipmile said they have outlined four strategic priorities on what and how the CCC will deliver for the period 2016-2020 where they are determined to work on conduct harmful to competition in the Common Market, strengthen enforcement, advocacy and strategic collaboration and institutional strengthening.

He mentioned that over 100 mergers and acquisitions have been assessed since 2013 with in the COMESA region attracting $5billion in new capital flows.

"Over $13m in merger notification fees has been received and about $6.5m merger notification fees shared with Member States affected by mergers under review," said Lipimile.

The 19 member states of COMESA are Burundi, Comoros, D.R. Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Chilufya Sampa, a Director at CCC talked about cross border restrictive business practices where he mentioned that these are agreements decisions or concerted practices that are engaged in from one jurisdiction but whose effects manifest across borders into other jurisdictions such as Cartels, abuse of dominance and vertical restraints.

He said cartels can lead to high prices of goods and services, people lacking choice and poor service delivery, raise barriers to entry, unconscionable conduct and abuse of dominant position of market power that leads to exploitative conduct such as excessive pricing, poor quality goods and exclusionary conduct like limiting access to markets through tying, exclusive dealings arrangements full line forcing.

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