Crossing the competition rubicon : Internationalising African antitrust through COMESA

Antitrust publications were abuzz with "COMESA" in recent months. Yet, neither the decades-old pan-African organisation nor its Competition Regulations are novel. What’s new is that COMESA’s Competition Commission has finally — and suddenly — opened its doors and begun operations, already having reviewed two merger filings. This paper examines the economic advantages of COMESA for the region, analyses its role as a multi-national enforcement body, and identifies the pitfalls the agency will face in its inaugural year.

1. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa has recently grabbed international legal headlines. Its acronymic title, COMESA, now firmly features in the awareness of most competition lawyers. The organisation is not new, however, nor are its Competition Rules and Regulations. The multi-national body itself dates back at least twenty years, and the Regulations were finalised and (technically) entered into force in 2004. 2. Why all the ruckus in 2013 then? The reason is straight-forward: Antitrust law does not self-execute. It needs an enforcer, public or private. That enforcement agency now exists. I. Alea iacta est: A new supranational competition authority is born 3. For the past decade of the Competition Regulations’ theoretical existence, they dwelled in the nether region of

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