An official launching of East African Community Competitive Policy and Law project has taken place on 3rd September 2013 at Star Hotel- Bujumbura. A slow progress in the implementation of the competition policy has been noticed due to limited awareness of its importance in EAC – By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse
ABUCO, the Burundian Consumers’ Association has organized on 3rd September 2013 a National Inception Meeting for accelerating the implementation of EAC Competition Policy and Law in Burundi.
For Noel Nkurunziza, the Chairman of ABUCO, the objective of the meeting is to inform traders, entrepreneurs and consumers about the existence and importance of EAC competitive policy and law. This one was adopted in Burundi in 2010, but not implemented yet.
He goes on explaining the advantages of the competition policy implementation. “Consumers will get an opportunity to have multiple-choice products of good quality and traders will get investment, import and export facilities in EAC member States,” he says.
According to Anthe Vrijlandt, the Trade Mark East Africa Country Director, the implementation of the competitive policy and law will improve competition within EAC partner States and ensure the consumers’ well-being.
As far as the Minister of Trade and Industry Representative, Jérémie Banirwaninzigo and the Managing Director of Trade is concerned, the EAC competition policy implementation will facilitate free movement of products, multiply factories and industries, employment creation and products quality amelioration.
Some challenges slow down the policy implementation
According to Nkurunziza, the policy will be operational if the law is harmonized in all EAC partner States. In Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya as well as in Burundi the law has been adopted but not yet implemented. Uganda hasn’t even adopted it yet.
“As far as all EAC partner states do not apply it, there will be a great problem” he regrets.
The implementation of that law in Burundi also requires an implementation of a commission which will control and regulate the competition system.
The other handicap to that competition policy applicability in Burundi is the lack of quality products mechanism test. In spite of BBN (Burundi Authority of Standard) efforts, it still lacks adequate and sufficient techniques to test the quality of products. Burundian products will not be accepted in other EAC countries if their quality is not tested carefully.
For Samson Odhiambo, a Kenyan Expert, the EAC competition Act has been enacted since 2006, but there is still a slow progress in the implementation of the regional competition policy and law.
“The slow progress is due to limited awareness on the importance of the competition policy and law”, states Odhiambo.
Hence, there is a need to undertake massive campaigns of sensitization and explanation to accelerate the competition policy reforms at national and regional levels.