Mozambique: Chairperson of Competition Authority Dismissed

Maputo — The Mozambican government on Tuesday dismissed Julio Joao Pio from his position as chairperson of the Competition Regulatory Authority (ARC).

Pio is a former Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade who was appointed to head the ARC in 2020.

The ARC is supposed to act against practices that restrict competition, to ban cartels and to stop any company from abusing a dominant position in the market. But in reality it is invisible, and had nothing to say about two recent disputes over fair competition.

One was the claim by several cement companies that a new entrant, the Chinese-owned Dugongo Cimento, was driving its competitors out of the market by charging extremely cheap prices for its products.

The second was the cutthroat competition between the country's three mobile phone companies, TMcel, Vodacom and Movitel, which led the telecommunications regulatory body, the INCM (Mozambique National Institute of Communications), to ban various types of bonuses these companies offer to their subscribers - a move that was extremely controversial.

In neither case did Pio, or the ARC, say anything in public.

The government has appointed Iacumba Ali Aiuba to replace Pio. Aiuba was once Coordinator of the Commission on Economic Affairs and Tariffs on the National Electricity Council, and in July 2014 he was appointed chief executive officer of Mozambique Airlines (LAM), a post he held until 2016.

He was then appointed, in 2017, to chair the commission set up to liquidate "O Nosso Banco" ("Our Bank") the smallest of the country's commercial banks, which had collapsed the previous year.

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