March 28, 2006, Addis Ababa, Press Release

The effective implementation of competition policy and law is an important instrument for reducing poverty, achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), enhancing economic growth and private sector development in Africa. Adoption of appropriate laws on competition policy and sectoral regulation should be an essential requirement for any liberalised economic system as it is a key element which benefits the consumers and business sector. These were the key messages heard at a regional conference.

Experts hailing from policy research institutions, competition and sectoral regulators, civil society and development partners from Eastern and Southern Africa gathered at Addis Ababa for a two day a regional conference on Capacity Building on Competition Policy. The conference is being hosted by CUTS International, a research and advocacy organisation working in Asia and Africa in collaboration with AHa Ethiopian Consumer Protection Association as part of a seven country project called 7Up3.

The project is being implemented in seven countries of the region: Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Uganda, with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Norway and the Department for International Development (DFID), The United Kingdom.

Promotion of fair trade practices should be a priority not only for the government but also for the business and consumers as latter are usual victims of unfair trade practices, said Ato Harka Haroye, M.P. and Chairman of Trade Practices Investigation Commission of Ethiopia.

Capacity building of national and regional institutions and establishing a network of people and organisations in support of fair competition and economic regulation in Africa are the main objectives of the seven 7Up3, said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International.

An effective competition regime can bring productivity gains to an economy, and thus enhance growth by ensuring free entry and exit to markets, for firms of all sizes. This encourages innovation, reduces costs and increases national competitiveness, all of which are crucial for productivity and growth. This why the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is interested in competition policy and regulation. DFID’s mission is to help reduce poverty in the world and a vibrant, productive private sector will deliver the higher rates of economic growth that are essential for poverty reduction, said Karen Ellis, Economic Advisor to the Investment and Competition Team at DFID, London.

Experts from Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Ethiopia shared their findings on the existing competition and regulatory framework at the conference. The experiences and lessons from regulating sectors such as electricity, telecom were shared by officials of the competition and regulatory agencies.

CUTS International is also organising a training workshop for the officials of the Trade Practices Commission of Ethiopia on 29th and 30th of this month, in collaboration with the commission by bringing resources persons from Africa and outside.