Various regional regulators have been established in Africa, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the East African Community (EAC), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Southern African Development Region (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). These regional regulators may have active competition law enforcement, regional laws that relate to competition law enforcement or regional laws that promote competition between member states. We highlight the most notable developments in regional competition law.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
During 2016, the COMESA Competition Commission (CCC) entered into memoranda of understanding with national competition regulators of the various countries that are member states to COMESA.
COMESA concluded MOUs with the national competition regulators of Kenya, Malawi, Swaziland, Seychelles, Egypt, Madagascar and Zambia.
The MOUs are aimed at increasing cooperation between the CCC and the national competition regulators and provide for:
- the exchange of relevant information to ensure the effective enforcement of competition laws in respect of investigations undertaken either at regional or national level (be it in respect of merger control or prohibited practices);
- consultation between regulators on matters of competition enforcement, policy and developments in these areas within their respective jurisdictions;
- cooperation in the development of capacity building programmes;
- offering technical assistance.
These forms of cooperation agreements have gained popularity. Various regional and national regulators have entered into cooperation agreements to ensure the development and effective enforcement of competition law across Africa.
Southern African Development Region
SADC does not enforce a regional competition law regime, but provides a framework for cooperation initiatives between the various member states. All SADC member states are bound by the Declaration on Regional Cooperation and Consumer Policies, signed in September 2009. This declaration sets out a cooperation framework on competition policy for the SADC free trade area and is aimed at streamlining the implementation of competition laws in the respective member states through local regulation.
The national competition regulators of nine of the SADC member states signed a MOU on Inter-Agency Cooperation in Competition Policy, Law and Enforcement to ensure cooperation between these competition authorities and to strengthen the enforcement of competition law in each member state.
This MOU came into effect on 26 May 2016 and will remain in force for three years, with the option to renew or extend it further.
East African Community
During November 2016, the first ever appointed Commissioners of the EAC Competition Authority were sworn in at the EAC headquarters in Tanzania - each representing a member state.
The appointment of the Commissioners is an important step towards to the EAC Competition Authority becoming operational and enforcing its regional jurisdiction in respect of competition and consumer protection law issues.
West African Economic and Monetary Union
On 2 December 2016, the first WAEMU regional seminar was held in Cotonou, Benin. During the seminar, Adama Diomandé, head of competition of the WAEMU Commission, underlined that Articles 88 to 90 of the Treaty of the Union should apply to undertakings and States in order to achieve healthy competition and to develop the common market. He stated: "In addition to democratizing community competition law, a competition policy should be built, reforms should be carried out, the cooperation between States should be deepened, procedures should be simplified and a compliance program should be implemented".
Several recommendations with respect to the democratisation of community law have been made to the WAEMU Commission such as the teaching of community law in colleges, the publication of the community regulation and the admissibility of infringement proceedings brought by citizens against member States.
At local level, recommendations have also been made to local authorities, in particular, in order to have the community regulation issued in local languages and to have practical measures implemented in order to effectively community law. We anticipate that the WAEMU Commission and, in particular, its competition department, will implement an action plan in order to encourage the enforcement of community competition regulation in the near future.