The Future of African Antitrust Enforcement

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Heather Irvine, Jul 24, 2015

An important legal development for global investors into Africa is the increasing enforcement of antitrust law by regional bodies like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (“Comesa”) as well as the East African Community (“EAC”) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (“WAEMU”), alongside several powerful national competition authorities.

A number of powerful local antitrust authorities have established themselves over the last 10 years in Africa, including the South African Competition Commission (which has been in operation since 1999), the Fair Competition Commission of Tanzania (established in 2003) and the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (previously the Zambia Competition Commission, established in 1997). These authorities have levied millions of dollars in fines on companies for anticompetitive practices like price-fixing, market allocation, bid-rigging and abuses of dominance, sometimes using dawn raids to obtain evidence and employing sophisticated software to search large volumes of electronic data.

These authorities have also energetically pursued companies who have implemented merger transactions without notifying them or have implemented mergers prior to clearance being obtained. Merger control is also actively enforced by competition regulators in countries like Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Mauritius, Kenya, Malawi, and Morocco.

However, in the last two years, we have witnessed the establishment of regional competition regulators who are tasked with enforcing merger control and investigating and prosecuting anticompetitive conduct alongside national authorities.