ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority

Regional Integration and Competition Policy in West Africa: Interfacing Regional and Continental Competition Policies

The objective of integrating the African economies is now continental. Hence, the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement for a Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) marks a new and more ambitious stage in the process of integrating African economies[1]. Generally, regional integration projects and initiatives have a strong focus on the trade dimension. They aim at lowering and eliminating trade barriers by prohibiting participating members' restraints of trade in the internal market or by creating a common market. The trade dimension is important. However, its objectives would not be achieved without a competition policy dimension as a compliment. Hence, restrictions of competition on the regional level have both a trade and a competition component. To achieve the objective of creating regional markets free of trade barriers, it is crucial, in addition to the prohibiting restriction of trade, to police private and State initiated anti-competitive behaviors.

Benefits of Supranational and One-Stop-Shop Approach to Competition Regulation in Africa

While there are obvious gains in adopting a one-stop-shop approach as highlighted above, it is unclear whether it is realistic and to what extent it can apply. This results from the different individual needs of African countries at different developmental stages, as experience over time has shown that one size does not fit all in competition regulation.