The five (5) newly appointed Commissioners of the East African Community Competition Authority (EACCA) have been sworn in at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The appointed Commissioners were approved by the 33rd Meeting of the Council of Ministers held on 29th February 2016, which considered nominees submitted by each Partner State and appointed them as Commissioners of the EACCA. Furthermore, the 34th Meeting of the Council of Ministers held on 5th September, 2016, approved the Commissioners’ terms and conditions of service as provided by Section 38(6) of the EAC Competition Act, 2006.
The five Commissioners of the Authority include Mr. Innocent Habarugira (Burundi), Mr. Francis W. Kariuki (Kenya), Dr. Frederick Ringo (Tanzania), Dr. Didas M. Kayihura (Rwanda) and Mr. Sam K. Watasa (Uganda).
Presiding over the function on behalf of the EAC Secretary General, the Registrar of the East African Court of Justice His Worship Yufnalis Okubo, welcomed and congratulated the commissioners upon their appointment as the first Commissioners to serve the EAC Competition Authority.
“The onset of the EAC Common Market, coupled with our engagement in the globalized world implies that a higher percentage of competition cases have a significant regional and international ramification. The foregoing calls for the establishment of the EAC Competition Authority to regulate regional competition matters,” said the Registrar.
He urged Partner States to benchmark on international best practices in the enforcement of the EAC Competition Act 2006.
The EAC Competition Act, 2006, among other things, seeks to allow consumers to take class action against goods or services providers. It also seeks to seal loopholes that enable trade associations and firms operating across the region to engage in exclusive agreements, or form cartels, forcing consumers to pay higher prices for goods and services.
The Authority is an independent organ of EAC but subject to judicial review by the EACJ (as provided for in Sections 44 and 46 of the EAC Competition Act, 2006. It is mandated to develop appropriate procedures for public sensitization, consultation and participation.
Competition advocacy will entail providing information to citizens and businesses on competition whereas consultation will involve asking stakeholders for comments and advice regarding the Authority’s enforcement practice and on matters it intends to regulate.
In relation to participation, the Authority is expected to provide Partner States’ governments with comments and advice relating to the compatibility of Partner States’ regulatory activities with requirements of the Act. The Authority is also obligated to publish an annual report as well as occasional reports.
The enforcement of the EAC Competition Act, 2006 will trigger obligations for enterprises operating in various sectors as well as for Partner States. In particular, it is necessary for the Authority to evaluate what mechanisms will be used to implement the EAC Competition Act in a context where only two Partner States have operational national competition authorities, two Partner States are at advanced stages of establishing national competition authorities and one Partner State is in the process of enacting a competition law.
Given the confidential and sensitive nature of the matters to be handled by the Ad Hoc Competition Authority, the Commissioners took an Oath of Secrecy and an Oath of Allegiance before they embarked on discharging their services to the Community.
The Commissioners pledged their commitment to the Community by signing the Oaths of Allegiance and Secrecy, a formality and requirement delivered and witnessed by the EACJ Registrar; His Lordship Yufnalis Okubo, assisted by the Counsel to the Comminity; Dr. Anthony Kafumbe, Principal Human Resource Officer, Ms. Ruth Simba, among other staff from the EAC Secretariat.
During their three-day inaugural meeting, the Commissioners considered the Authority’s draft internal rules of procedure which spell out how it will conduct its business, developed a work plan and EAC merger review issues.