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COMESA competition policies still weak, achievement of regional integration remains challenging

Tinashe Makichi in Nairobi

NAIROBI, Kenya – The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has a weak competition culture and this has to a greater extent orchestrated stunted growth of many countries within the economic bloc.

Speaking on behalf of the Kenya Competition Authority Director General Francis Kariuki, Boniface Kamiti told the COMESA Competition Commission Regional Sensitization Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya that there is a massive absence of competition culture both at national and regional level among countries.

“We have noticed that there is a general absence of competition culture at national and regional level among countries. In Africa we have a weak competition culture and this has given birth to stunted economic growth among countries.

“The lack of competition has also given rise to cartels and monopolies and this has a played a bigger role in destroying innovation among corporates,” said Kamiti.

“There is need for a good relationship between the legislature and competition authorities. Consumers also need to be properly educated so that they understand their rights.”

COMESA Competition Authority chief executive Dr George Lipimile added that the time for socialist policies for the continent are long gone and there is need to open up markets.

“We need to open up markets and that is what regional integration is all about. There is need to ensure that the private sector plays an important role in the development of economies and enhancement of competition. There is need to create competitive markets and if that is not done then we are doomed,” said Dr Lipimile.

He said going into the future, businesses in the economic bloc should be outward looking to encourage competition

“Protectionism by most Governments has killed competition and the consumer has been the biggest victim. If its protection then it has to be managed and as CCC we are mindful of naked protectionism which is not well managed,” said Dr Lipimile.

He said a strong and effective competition law enforcement is a precursor to the realisation of a common market.

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