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Competition Policy in the Digital Age Case Studies from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa

December 16, 2016 | | East Asia and Pacific | Sub-Saharan Africa | Emanuela Lecchi

Competition law and the functioning of regulation are often analysed and discussed in abstract form.

Telecommunications regulatory authorities establish frameworks to facilitate competition, to protect consumers and to encourage innovation in the telecoms sector. However, policymakers and regulators do not always appreciate the telecoms industry’s role in the new digitised economy: telecoms markets have become increasingly integrated with adjacent markets: service providers from different sectors increasingly co-operate and compete with each other with longstanding market definitions now becoming obsolete.

Countries also adopt competition laws that seek to prohibit arrangements that would prevent, restrict or distort competition with competition authorities established to uphold these principles. Numerous studies have shown that the effective application of competition law across all sectors of the economy drives development and improves the welfare of citizens, with the lowest income population benefiting the most.

What is interesting, is to explore whether the frameworks adopted work, for the benefit of consumers.

In our recently published Case Study, Competition Policy in the Digital Age, Case Studies from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, we explore how best practice principles, i.e.: a properly functioning competition authority; regulation to address market failure; competition law enforced by a competition authority; cooperation between authorities at both national and supranational level; work in practice.

There are a number of key findings, in particular:

  • Advanced societies in Asia tend to have adopted principles of best practice and tend to approach regulation cautiously;
  • Asian countries such as Australia, South Korea and Singapore are at the forefront of the application of competition rules;
  • In Sub Saharan Africa, of the countries reviewed, only 14 have an established and properly functioning system of competition law – resourcing of the competition authority can be an issue;
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two most ambitious experiments in centralised supra-national enforcement of competition law: COMESA (the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and WAEMU (the West African Economic and Monetary Union).
  • If supra-national adoption of competition frameworks is done right, there is great potential to align decisions of national agencies and to reduce transaction costs, helping with the creation of a predictable cross-border business environment.

Based on this in-depth analysis, we provide a set of recommendations for policy makers and agencies. We will work with partners in country to promote the findings so as many consumers as possible can reap the benefit of the digital age.

To read the Competition Policy in the Digital Age Case Studies click here.

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