Friday, December 3, 2021

SADC competition authorities move to curtail uncompetitive behaviour

With uncompetitive behaviour having become apparent in most African markets, African countries are working closely to close this gap by adopting effective competition principles at a regional level.

An expert in competition issues, Professor Simon Roberts, who is also a lecturer at Wits University in South Africa, said gone are the days when individual competition authorities would stand alone to regulate competition in their own countries.

“It’s sad to note that companies doing businesses in Africa are operating outside their trading borders; it becomes very difficult to monitor issues of unfair competition,” said Roberts.

He added that at times some companies colluded and fixed prices even though the people involved would be aware that doing so would be unlawful.

“By coming together as competition authorities we hope to curtail uncompetitive behaviour at a regional level,” said Roberts.

Speaking at the African Competition Forum (ACF) research workshop held in conjunction with the Botswana Competition Authority, Roberts said by regulating competition at a regional level, the aim is to promote the adoption of competition principles in the implementation of national and regional economic policies of African countries, in order to alleviate poverty and enhance inclusive economic growth.

Meanwhile six African countries that are Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana are working on a market report for three key cross-border sectors of cement, poultry and sugar.

“We have put our focus on the three products as they matter in economic development and consumer welfare,” said Roberts.

He added that by monitoring this uncompetitive behaviour at a regional level they will be able to establish the barriers that have stopped investment into the region.

Thula Kaira, the Chief Executive Officer at the Competition Authority of Botswana, reiterated the importance of three sectors.

Kaira said that there are instances where factories ended up stopping production because they could not penetrate the market.

He said people have ventured into the poultry sector but what is surprising is that when the chickens are fully grown there is no market to sell the chickens. Kaira also cited the Sugar sector research done in Zambia which showed that the country is self sufficient in sugar but the price for sugar was three times the average.

“By collaborating we want to establish if it’s a policy issue or an issue of competition,” said Kaira.

He said as (ACF) they want to foster fair competition in markets, and thereby increasing investment, productivity, innovation and entrepreneurship. ACF is working hard to improve management of the competition policy and law so as to deepen gains from the local, regional and international liberalized markets which are very pertinent initiatives of reducing poverty on the continent of Africa.

The 6 months study will be compiled into a final report which shall be presented to the main African Competition Forum gathering in Mauritius before the end of November.

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