Several competition watchdogs in Africa plan to collectively interrogate the market conduct of global digital firms, including Google and Meta ((together with its Instagram and Facebook are banned and designated as extremist in the Russia).
In February, the regulators from Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Gambia and Zambia set up a working group for collaboration over concerns related to competition and consumer welfare in Africa.
The Competition Commission of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which represents 21 countries, is also participating in the new working group. Regulators will focus on the challenges of African digital markets.The group said its focus areas will be on e-commerce, aggregator services (online travel agents and online classifieds), matchmaker services (e-hailing and delivery services like Uber and Glovo), digital advertising (search and social media sites like Google and Facebook), fintech and app stores.
The aim of the working group is to remove the obstacles that limit the emergence and expansion of African digital platforms, and to develop legislative instruments in each of the participating countries.
“Digital firms with a global presence may bring innovations to African markets, but they may also stifle the development of domestic platforms. Therefore, there exists the potential to positively impact our economies by ensuring adequate enforcement in this evolving space, including having a clear understanding of the barriers to entry and expansion that are affecting local platforms,”
said a working group spokesperson.
While the regulators will make market inquiries collaboratively, enforcement by member states will be done independently, and according to their laws. It is estimated that two-thirds of countries in Africa have competition laws, with the rest covered by the laws of regional bodies like the African Continental Free Trade Area and COMESA.
Member states have agreed to carry out joint investigations where partners can share information on investigations to ensure the achievement of coherent decisions, and the optimal use of limited resources in promoting healthy regional competition.
Meta was last year subjected to various kinds of scrutiny for possible anticompetitive behavior in Africa, and more recently the COMESA Competition Commission demanded that pan-African e-commerce platform Jumia review its terms and conditions in the interest of consumers.