Anniversary of CCC’s 2013 Creation to be Celebrated, Developments Discussed
Next week, African heads of state, ministers of trade and commerce, the secretary general of the 21-member state COMESA organization, Commissioners, and several heads of various competition agencies across the region, from Egypt to Eswatini & from Mauritius to Malawi, will join antitrust practitioners, legal experts, business people, and journalists in celebrating the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the COMESA Competition Commission in Lilongwe, where the agency is headquartered.
Of course, AAT will be there to cover it.
As leaders of this august publication will know by now, our authors have followed the development of the CCC since its very beginning: from the nascent stages of having only a rudimentary staff and foundational rule documents, lacking sufficient guidance for practitioners and businesses alike, to the significant developmental stage under its first chief executive officer, Dr. Lipimile, who built out his enforcement team to coincide with the stellar growth of the CCC’s “one-stop-shop” merger notification statistics and attendant agency reviews (hiring economists and lawyers alike from across COMESA member nations) — and culminating, so far at least, in what we have come to call “CCC 2.0”: the latest iteration of the vastly successful multi-jurisdictional antitrust body, now led by its long-term member Dr. Willard Mwemba.
Under Mwemba’s aegis, the Commission has advanced well beyond a mere ‘rubber-stamping’ merger review body, as some had perceived the fledgling agency in its very early years (approx. 2013-15). The triple-C has since then begun to launch serious investigations into price-fixing, monopolization, attempted monopolization, gun-jumping, as well as market allocation schemes and secretly implemented transactions that parties had failed to notify.
While ‘antitrust is on our minds’, we note here for the record that, beyond its “competition” ambit that mostly remains in our focus at AAT, the CCC’s enforcement mission also includes a fairly large “consumer protection” brief, and the agency’s dedicated unit has investigated areas of consumer concern as broad as airline practices, imported faulty American baby powder, online ‘dark’ practices, pay-TV, and agricultural product quality disputes (milk and sugar come to mind) between Uganda and Kenya, to name only a few…
Our publication, together with several of the business journals and newspapers across the southeastern region of Africa, will report in great detail on the events, and possible news, to take place next week. Says Andreas Stargard, a competition practitioner with Primerio International:
“I look forward to hearing from these leaders themselves what they have accomplished in 10 years, and more importantly what they wish to accomplish in the near to mid-term future. In addition, I have a feeling that we may be treated to some truly newsworthy developments: I could imagine there being either confirmation or denials of the circulating rumour that the COMESA merger regime will soon become not only mandatory, but also suspensory. As most attorneys practicing in this arena know by now, the current Competition Regulations are not suspensory, which may be deemed too restrictive by the group’s Secretariat and its agency leadership in terms of its enforcement powers. After all, it is much more difficult to unscramble the egg than to never let it drop in the pan from the get-go!
Also, the CCC may reveal its plans in relation to a leniency programme for cartel conduct, which is plainly in order!”
Beyond that, Stargard surmises, participants at the almost week-long event may be treated to news about the CCC’s thoughts on digital markets, sectoral investigations, and the Commission’s upcoming “beyond-mere-merger” enforcement activities.