The COMESA Competition Commission commenced its operations on the 14th of January 2013 and is a regional body corporate established under Article 6 of the COMESA Competition Regulations. In order to ensure fair competition and transparency among economic operators in the region, COMESA enacted the regional competition law and policy to harmonize existing national competition policies to avoid contradictions and provide a consistent regional economic environment. The Regulations were promulgated in 2004 pursuant to Article 55 of the Treaty establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (“the Treaty”). The Commission is responsible, among other things, for promoting competition and enhancing the welfare of consumers in the Common Market. The main functions of the Commission are to prohibit, monitor and investigate anti-competitive business practices, control mergers and other forms of acquisitions in the Common Market and mediate disputes between the Member States concerning anti-competitive conduct.
The COMESA Competition Commission is the first regional competition authority in Africa and the second in the world, after the European Competition Authority. It is charged with the enforcement of the regulations. The introduction of the regulations created a ‘One Stop Shop’ for the assessment of cross border transactions thereby reducing the burden and cost of doing business in the region, given that such transactions no longer need to be examined in each Member State. The COMESA regime also provides the only and most extensive network of national competition authorities in Africa. The Commission, in its enforcement of the regulations, enjoys international legal personality in the territory of each Member State and the legal capacity required for the performance of its functions under the Treaty.
The Commission also plays an advocacy role in handling complaints relating to anti-competitive business practices and other unfair business practices; and has established a ‘Fast-Track’ platform to deal with day-to-day complaints. The rate of mergers and acquisitions taking place in all the COMESA Member States is an indication of the attractiveness of investing in the Common Market. This is so because mergers now represent the most favoured method for investing in Africa. The Competition Commission is in Lilongwe, Malawi.
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