Experts call for formation of regional body to regulate trade

Mr Nathan Irumba, the SEATINI chief executive officer.

What you need to know:

Rational. Once in place, the body will promote free and fair competition

Kampala. Consumers in Uganda have nowhere to legally turn to if faced with exploitation because there is no law in relation to competition in business.
Despite persistent calls by the private sector for the law to be operational, the Bill continues to gather dust on the Ministry of Trade’s shelf.
To safeguard the interest of the consumers against market distortions by selfish, profit-driven organisations and individuals, a cross section of trade analysts and regional non-governmental organisations want a regional authority formed that will regulate unfair trade.
At a recent workshop organised by Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda, in partnership with Consumer Unity and Trust Society and with support from Trade mark East Africa, experts said with the growth of cross-border trade, it is necessary to establish a regional authority that will regulate unfair trade tendencies.
“Due to anti-competitive practices in the region, the EAC might be prone to restrictive business practices. This is because regional integration has ushered in regional and international players with some experience in violating competition laws in their areas of origin,” Mr Cornelius Dube, an expert on competition and related laws said during the training.
He added: “The cut-throat competition in the breweries, cement, banking, telecommunications and airlines sectors might have ushered in significant anticompetitive behaviour. And so the region desperately needs a cadre of competition champions to raise the ante on the need for the implementation of the EAC Competition Act 2006.”
SEATINI chief executive officer Nathan Irumba said the idea of the authority is good although he warned that it should be strong enough not to yield to undue political and commercial pressures.
Mr Dan Marlone, a consumer activist, said the authority should be modelled around guarding consumer interests.
Currently, only two EAC countries, Kenya and Tanzania, have significant level of experience in handling competition issues. Burundi and Rwanda recently adopted competition laws and are yet to fully implement them. Uganda is yet to adopt a competition law

The legislation
In 2004, a draft competition Bill for Uganda was developed (Uganda’s Competition Bill 2004), with a view to promote fair competition in the local market.
After three years, the Bill was reviewed. However, its enactment stalled due to the absence of a competition policy.
In 2009, a process began to develop the Uganda Competition policy which was in 2014, adopted by the cabinet.

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