AS more Tanzanians develop a tendency to buy products and services Online, it has emerged that such consumers are not protected by laws and policies that shield traditional transactions.
That was noted in Dar es Salaam yesterday by Fair Competition Commission (FCC), as a watchdog mandated to oversee a level playing ground in trade.
According to FCC's Chairman Prof Humphrey Moshi the existing laws and policies were designed in the pre-digital trade era and, therefore, do not protect online consumers.
He made the observation in a bid to address observed challenges posed by online business, ahead of stakeholders meeting in the city on 5th December, organized as World Competition Day commemorations to devise more robust approaches that would foster healthy competition and safeguard the interest of consumers in the trade.
"The new model of doing business has posed a lot of challenges, different from what exists in the competition policy and laws," he added.
Prof Moshi said as online business seems headed in the right direction, it was crucial to address the challenges before it becomes a big problem in the country.
"Some of the challenges include the idea of buying goods and services, which cannot be seen and touched physically... it is not the type of risk consumers can afford.
They are not confident also whether online merchants are trustworthy enough to deliver products and services as promised," he explained.
The chairman further explained that other challenges of online business include trust issues because E-commerce is not a familiar practice in our country, consumers are obliged to think how they could trust people they do not see and maybe found a thousand kilometres away.
However, he said Tanzania already has in place various enabling legislation and institutional arrangements for counteracting the competition challenges posed by the digital economy, including the Fair Competition Act of 2003, Cybercrimes Act of 2015 and Electronic and Postal Communications Act.
According to Prof Moshi, the new model does not involve changes in basics of competition law; they have implications on the analytical steps and instruments used in defining the market, assessing market dominance and approaches to consumer protection.
On World Competition Day commemorations, he said the day will be marked with the theme 'Ensuring Effective Competition in an Increasingly Online World'.
"FCC in collaboration with other regulatory authorities, including EWURA and TCRA to mention a few before the commemorations will conduct several activities, including stakeholders' exhibitions from December 3 and a half-day symposium on December 4," he said.
Prof Moshi said online business was a major driver of economic growth in the 21st century and lies at the heart of innovation and industrial development, by way of providing necessary efficiencies, reduction of transaction costs and overall global market integration.