COMESA Competition Law Now In Force- A New Merger Control Regime for Firms Operating in Africa

On 14 January 2013, a new regional competition law regime came into operation across the 19 eastern and southern African countries that are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). This COMESA regime introduces new supra-national merger control and business conduct rules which must now be complied with and which are enforced by the COMESA Competition Commission (Commission).

The commencement of the new COMESA regime will have potentially major implications for firms that either do business generally in COMESA Member States and/or are considering undertaking acquisitions/disposals of business in these states. This is because a failure to comply with the rules involves potentially significant penalties such as fines and other measures to reverse the effect of an unauthorised merger. Whilst the new COMESA regime is already in force, there currently remain significant uncertainties as to its interpretation and how it will operate in practice.

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