The COMESA Competition Commission (CCC) has heeded calls for further clarity on various aspects of the COMESA Competition Regulations (COMESA Regulations), by issuing draft guidelines which have been recently published on its website for public comment.

According to the introduction issued by the CCC's manager for legal services and compliance, Mary Gurere, the CCC embarked on a wide consultative process in preparation of the draft guidelines. This included recourse to existing literature, consultations with various stakeholders and consideration of prevailing regulations, rules and guidelines from both the EU and the various COMESA member states.

A total of five guidelines have been issued. These include guidelines dealing with:

  • Merger Assessment;
  • Market Definition;
  • Public Interest;
  • The Application of Articles 16 (Restrictive Business Practices) and 19 (Prohibited Practices), and
  • The Application of Article 18 (Abuse of a Dominant Position).

The draft guidelines respond to criticism leveled at the COMESA Regulations, and have been described as embodying “’recommended best practices’ in the administration and enforcement of competition law and policy.” Whilst this wording suggests that the guidelines are likely to be, at the very least, highly persuasive in the execution of the Commission’s functions, exactly how the interplay between the guidelines and the COMESA Regulations will unfold in practice remains to be seen.

Comments on the draft guidelines have been invited from the public and are currently required to be submitted by no later than 6 May 2013.