The Big Picture: AAT History – Maturing competition-law regimes in Africa

AAT the big picture

Below, AfricanAntitrust.com provides a brief overview of maturing antitrust jurisdictions in Africa

In the past two decades, 26 African countries implemented domestic competition law regimes, and that number continues to grow.

Many competition authorities who were previously deemed as being rather ineffective in their teething stages, have now begun to actively enforce their respective competition law provisions by launching market inquiries, prohibiting anti-competitive mergers, conducting dawn raids and becoming tough on cartel activity.

Below, we provide a short summary of some of the maturing jurisdictions on the continent (notably excluding matured ones (South Africa) as well as young regimes, including supra-national ones such as COMESA, as they arguably fall outside this definition.)

Botswana

The Competition Authority in Botswana was launched in 2011, and with 33 staff members, of which nearly half comprises economists, and the authority has already conducted more than 20 dawn raids and launched market inquiries launched into various “priority sectors” such as retail, poultry and cement. The competition authority has blocked mergers which impede the empowerment of Botswana’s citizens on the basis of public interest concerns in maintaining sufficient local shareholding in certain key markets such as health care.

Kenya

In 2011, Kenya implemented its Competition Act and now, given the new, and higher, merger filing fees, the budgetary constraints within the Competition Authority of Kenya (“CAK”) will be addressed and alleviated. The Competition Authority of Kenya announced its intention to launch investigations into claims of powerful cartels in the lucrative coffee industry in Kenya. The Competition Authority of Kenya plans to probe abuse of dominance by coffee firms, particularly in relation to marketing. In addition, the Competition Authority of Kenya has initiated an investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance by Lafarge in Kenya, which may result in Lafarge being forced to sell its stake in the East African Portland Cement Company.

Following the dawn raid conducted by the South African Competition Commission on Unilever and Sime Darby in April 2014 in relation to the edible oils industry, the CAK has launched an investigation into the edible oils market, in which local prices have been unresponsive to reductions in the cost of imported feedstock.

Namibia, Zambia & Mauritius

Both the Namibian and Mauritian competition authorities have announced their respective plans to introduce a formal corporate leniency policy to improve their cartel enforcement. In addition, the Mauritian Competition Commission will investigate whether Stage Beverages, of the Castle Group, and Phoenix Beverages Ltd have agreed to divide markets in Mauritius and Madagascar, given that the Mauritian Competition Commission has reason to believe that Stage Beverages and Phoenix Beverages have agreed that Stage Beverages will cease the manufacture and supply of beer in Mauritius, while Phoenix Beverages will do the same in Madagascar.

The Zambian competition authority has recently imposed significant penalties for price-fixing in the vehicle-repair industry. Furthermore, it has conducted dawn raids on two fertiliser companies.

AAT will continue its summaries (which we hope you find helpful in navigating the competition-law map of Africa) in its “Big Picture” series.

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