14 June 2018

Ethiopia: Preventing Anti-Competitive Trade Practices

The protection of consumers' rights is in the interest of all as everybody buys commodities and uses services. That is why it is essential to everyone that his or her rights are protected while making purchases- so that information given is complete and real, advertisements are not misleading, there are no unjust provisions of the contracts, consumers can exercise their rights and commodities one buys are safe and do not harm one's health or danger one's life.

Ethiopia has been taken various measures to ensure consumers right. Accordingly, the nation has come up with various rules regulations to do so. For instance, proclamation No. 813/2013 states the rights and obligations of buyers and sellers and support any consumer has a right to get sufficient and accurate information as to the quality and type of goods or services he/she purchases.

But, nowadays there is disparity amongregions in effectively imple menting the proclamation and the regulatory procedures. Hence, various stakeholders, including the government has huge responsibility of encouraging fair and effective competition in order to provide consumers with the greatest range of choice among products and services at a lower cost.

Stakeholders working in the area have made serious discussion regarding the effective implementation of proclamation No. 813/2013. As to the report presented in the platform, while there are some effective states who are implementing the proclamation well and ensure stable trade competition, there are also others that failed to so. In this regard, higher educational institutions should discharge their responsibility through conducting researches and show the real cause of the problem.

Awoke Gizaw is a professional trainer at Trade Competition and Consumer Protection Authority. He told The Ethiopian Herald that Debra-Berhan University (DBU) is a pioneer institution in conducting research to show communities' existing problem related to consumers' right and ant-competition sentiments and that the study come up with pertinent solution.

Goytom Afera is a lecturer at Debra-Brehan University. He has conducted research on the issue. In some awareness raising platforms, the community has raised various inquires related to buyers right protection. For instance, without any reason, merchants are increasing the prices of various goods and services. Some merchants for instance made price changes right after public servants salary increment. Due to lack of fair trade competition, consumers are forced to buy goods and services with unfair price.

Though there are organizations established to enforce the proclam- ation, due to lack of skilled human power, the rules, regulations and directives have not been fully implemented. As a result, the problem has been worsening from time to time, he added.

He further noted the state trade industry and market development offices have no research department which identify and solve the root cause of the problem. Due to absence of modern system, still traditional mechanisms have been applied to address the problem.

According to him, if the recomme ndations of the research are implem ented, the trade competition will be better. The critical problem here is the concept and awareness of fair trade is yet developed. Hence, to raise awareness of the community at large, state offices and Minister of Education should work jointly. Buyers' right protection issues would be included in civic and ethical education books, he said.

Indeed, efforts have been exerted to provide methods of trade competition as a course. Many professionals are working to develop the curriculum.

In the long run, Debra-Brhan University would establish a center for consumers' right protection to be part of the solution. The center will be serving in raising awareness of the society about consumer rights and how it should be protected.

Ethiopia is now signing free market zone and trade relation agreements with different neighboring countries. Therefore, such researches would support the Ethiopian trade policy to be more compatible with international trade practices. It would also promote strong activism to protect buyers, he added.

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