The East African Competition Authority has started its operations with a mandate to check on price fixing and other malpractices by investigative firms and trade associations which exploit consumers, The EastAfrican reports.
In addition, the authority is undertaking market studies to inform the competitiveness of the regional economy.
The Authority, based in Tanzania’s capital Arusha, was developed under the EAC Competition Act, 2006 mandated to promote and protect fair competition in the region.
The Act prohibits anti-competitive trade practices, abuse of market dominance, provides for notification of mergers and acquisitions, notification of subsidies granted by partner states and regulates public procurement.
The authority is also mandated to review the EAC Competition regulatory framework and developing laws.
This comes even after Wang’ombe Kariuki, the director- general of the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) raised concerns over cartels operating across the borders with an aim to exploit consumers.
The East African have always faced challenges in enacting competition laws and setting up institutions to deal with the same, making the regional market shrink with malpractices and anti-competitive behaviours.
While Kenya and Tanzania have successfully enacted the laws and have established institutions, Burundi’s competition law and agency are yet to be approved.
On the other hand, Rwanda has a competition law, with establishment of a national competition agency approved and gazetted by parliament.
South Sudan and Uganda have both drafted competition Bills.
The EAC Authority appointed five commissioners which were sworn in in 2016 to foresee the onset of the EAC Common Market, coupled with our engagement in the globalized world.
In 2015, Kenya launched investigations into the conduct, practices and procedures of trade associations, including financial, agriculture and agro-processing sectors, implicating them for price fixing.
This resulted to the introduction of Special Compliance Programme, to ensure Kenyan firms complied with the competition law.
Speaking during the official opening session of the East African Business Council (EABC), Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Ruganda, Uganda’s Prime Minister said that the Intra-African trade is extremely low and currently accounts for only 10% of all commerce on the continent, calling for joint efforts between the government and private sector to help the region achieve its development objectives.