The Competition Authority (CA) on Thursday celebrated its second anniversary. It was on this day, two years ago, that the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Competition Authority, Thula Kaira, reported for duty as the first and the only employee of the Authority.
Although the employment process of the Authority staff was only completed in January 2012, April 2011 is technically recognised as the birth of the Competition Authority in Botswana.
The Competition Authority was set up by Parliament (Competition Act) in 2009. The chief aim was to ensure fair competition in the economy. This mandate is fulfilled, amongst other things, by preventing anti-competition conduct, removing constraints to free competition, investigating and resolving all complaints of anti-competitive conduct in the Botswana market.
The Competition Act became operational on October 14, 2011 when the Competition regulations were gazetted. The commissioning of the Regulations meant that the CA could carry out its key functions as mandated by the Act. Since the gazetting of the regulations, the CA has achieved a number of feats.
Since inception, the Authority has investigated a total of 63 cases, 33 or (52 percent) were cases of abuse of dominance, which include predatory price fixing, refusal to deal and exclusive agreements while 30 cases or (48 percent) were cases of restrictive business practices, which include complaints such as bid rigging, price fixing, market allocation and other restrictive business practices. Out of all the 63 cases, 17 have been closed. Investigations are still on-going in the majority of cases while three cases are on the verge of being referred to the competition tribunal for hearing.
The Authority has embarked on three key research projects in retail, poultry and cement markets. Two of these studies are a joint project with other SADC nations under the banner of the African Competition Forum.
On the Mergers and Acquisitions front, the Authority has received a total of 49 merger notifications since October 2011. Out of all these mergers, 45 have been finalised and four are yet to be finalised. Of all the concluded merger cases, 22 have been approved with conditions, 19 approved without conditions, four mergers have been rejected, out of which the Authority reached a settlement agreement with the parties in two cases.
After two years, the Competition Authority is an established organisation and is making significant strides in its engagement with the public, business and other stakeholders.