By Joshua Eveleigh and Shivaan Naicker
The Board of Commissioners of the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) recently fined Airtel Money and Avian Ventures Ltd (trading as Farm Depot Zambia) each 3% of their annual turnovers in Zambia.
The CCPC’s investigation found that Airtel Money had increased its cash collection and cash disbursement fees among different sports betting companies, in contravention of section 16 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”). Airtel was found to have imposed differing transaction conditions to differing parties for identical transactions, a type of price discrimination akin to U.S. Robinson-Patman Act violations that may be falling back into favor across the pond.
Additionally, Farm Depot Zambia was found to have contravened sections 15 and 16 of the Act by engaging in product tying by requiring customers to purchase certain brands of chicken feed when they intended on only purchasing Day-Old Chicks, with the Board of Commissioners of the CCPC emphasising that product typing places a particular strain on small and medium-sized businesses.
More recently, the Zambian Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Chipoka Mulenga, announced a new Board of Commissioners comprised of:
- Mrs. Angela Kafunda;
- Mr. Fredrick Imasiku;
- Mr. Stanford Mtamira;
- Mr. Sikambala M. Musune;
- Mr. Emmanuel M. Mwanakatwe;
- Mrs. Sambwa Simbyakula Chilembo; and
- Mr. Derrick Sikombe.
While the sanctions against Airtel Money and Farm Depot Zambia may have emphasised the steady investigation of, and enforcement against, anti-competitive conduct under the previous Board of Commissioners, the new Board of Commissioners does not appear to consist of any competition law practitioners. Various local counsel in Zambia have raised concerns in this regard for the future of the CCPC’s competition enforcement initiatives.