Mr. Amadou Ceesay made these remarks at the 8th virtual UN confab on Competition and Consumer Protection, which was held from 19 to 23 October, 2020.
The forum, organized under the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The event, which is held every five years, provides an opportunity for governments and stakeholders to discuss competition and consumer protection policies at both national and international levels.
It also provides tools for sustainable development, economic growth and competitiveness amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ceesay at the meeting said there is scope for promoting cooperation among members of the same regional grouping.
“This is one area where UNCTAD needs to play more active role. Definitely, we need the support of UNCTAD in West Africa as we develop regional cooperation mechanisms on the back of the ECOWAS competition consultative committee not only, UNCTAD, more advanced competition law systems can also play a role here.”
The AFCFTA, he added, provides African countries with the opportunity to establish a continent-wide competition policy framework.
While the negotiations on the competition policy protocols are yet to start, he said, it would be good to see that the framework places heavy emphasis on and creates a mechanism for cross border cooperation among the national competition authorities in Africa.
“The African Competition Forum has set a model for multilateral (involving all national competition authorities in Africa; and as opposed to bilateral) cooperation among African countries through knowledge sharing and joint studies. What is needed is for this cooperation to translate to investigation and enforcement of specific cases” he added.
In the area of capacity building, Ceesay indicated that there is need for two-way exchanges of personnel among national competition authorities rather than just training programmes.
“Exchange of personnel for a reasonable period of time would ensure that knowledge and expertise are effectively transferred between national competition authorities. Part of his recommendations also include international cooperation prioritising gradual harmonization of core standards both in the substantive law and in procedure across the countries”.
While acknowledging the role of UNCTAD in facilitating international cooperation by providing regular forums for competition authorities around the world to interact and share ideas, Ceesay however highlighted some of the challenges that developing countries face in international cooperation on competition issues which includes lack of adequate manpower and requisite expertise and finance resources.