During the 7th meeting of the SADC Technical Committee on Competition and Consumer Policy and Law held in Gaborone on 26 May 2016, SADC Competition Authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Inter – Agency cooperation in competition policy, law and enforcement. This was a landmark development, a culmination of a consultative process which commenced in July 2015 following the resolution of the SADC Technical Committee on Competition and Consumer Policy and Law made at its Extra Ordinary meeting in July 2015 to develop an MOU on Inter – Agency cooperation.
The signing of this MOU is a historic event that marks an important milestone in the implementation of the Declaration on Regional Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Policies adopted by SADC Heads of State and Government in 2009. Over the years, the Declaration facilitated provision of capacity building and technical assistance to Member States in support of competition policy development and implementation. The region now boasts of ten Member States with operational competition authorities. The remaining five Member States are at different stages in the development of their respective competition legislation.
The main objective of the MOU is to foster closer cooperation in the enforcement of Member States’ competition laws in order to address effectively national and cross/border competition problems or anti-competitive business practices such as cartels, abusive practices of dominant firms and monopolies.
In terms of the substantive provisions of the MOU, the Competition Authorities have committed themselves to cooperate by, among other things;
- sharing information on cases,
- coordinating investigation of cases,
- harmonizing the rules and procedures for handling cases, and
- undertaking joint capacity building and research activities.
The MOU will go a long way in strengthening competition law enforcement and add value to the national implementation efforts of Member States. This MOU comes at an opportune time when SADC has adopted an Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap, which amongst other objectives promotes the creation of sustainable regional value chains. Competition authorities will be expected to play a pivotal role by ensuring that a conducive business environment for cross border investments exists.
Secretariat commended the Competition Authorities for the initiative and urged them to honour their commitments as spelt out in the MOU.