On December 19, 2008, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted the Supplementary Act A/SA.2/12/08 establishing, attributions and functioning of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority.
ERCA is the relevant Authority to represent the ECOWAS region in matters of competition and consumer protection. Its activities were officially launched in June 2019 in The Gambia, the country hosting its Headquarters.
ERCA is responsible for the implementation of ECOWAS competition rules, in particular:
- keep under review commercial activities in the Community Market with a view to ascertaining practices which may distort the efficient operation of the market conduct or which may adversely affect the economic interests of consumers;
- carry out on its own initiative or at the request of private persons or government officials from the Member States or of the Community Court of Justice, such investigations in relation to the conduct of business in the Common Market as will enable it to determine whether any enterprise is engaging in business practices in contravention of the Supplementary Act adopting the Community Competition Rules;
- preclude and eliminate anti-competitive practices amounting to an abuse of a dominant market position;
- co-operate with national and regional competition agencies in taking measures necessary to ensure implementation of the obligations arising from the Community Competition Rules;
- co-operate with and assist any association, intergovernmental organization, or body of persons in developing and promoting the observance of standards of conduct for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Community Competition Rules;
- make available to persons engaged in business as well as to consumers, general information with respect to their rights and obligations under the Community Competition Rules;
- undertake studies and publish reports and information regarding matters affecting the interests of consumers in the implementation of the Community Competition Rules;
- contribute to the training of the staff of national competition structures and provide them with support notably in the management of investigations, creation of a competition-related data base, advocacy on competition and consumer protection.
- creating awareness on respective rights of business as well as consumers under the Supplementary Act
ERCA has the following powers, as set out in Article 4 of Supplementary Act A/SA.2/12/08:
- ERCA has power to issue injunctions:
- ordering the termination of a contract;
- prohibiting the conclusion or implementation of a contract;
- prohibiting the imposition of terms external to any transaction, the effect of which is to reduce competition;
- prohibiting discrimination or preferences in price matters and other related aspects, and
- requiring the transparent publication of commercial information (prices, scale of rates, general terms of sale, product composition and expiry dates);
- In considering applications for authorizations, mergers, acquisitions or business combinations, ERCA, in particular, takes into consideration the following data:
- the position on the market of the businesses concerned as well as their economic and financial power;
- the structure of all the markets concerned;
- the actual or potential competition from enterprises located within or outside the ECOWAS Common market;
- the effects of the transaction on suppliers and buyers;
- the legal or other obstacles to entry as well as the supply and demand trends in respect of the goods and services considered;
- any potential for technical and economic progress created by the proposed transaction, which may be in the interest of the consumer and may not constitute a hindrance to competition.
- ERCA takes into consideration, the following factors, among others, for granting authorization provided by the Community Competition rules for the conclusion or execution of an agreement for the purpose of engaging in business practices likely to violate prohibitions imposed by that Supplementary Act:
- the vulnerability of the sectors concerned;
- the impact that the said agreement or practices will have on the capacity of small and medium enterprises to effectively compete;
- the promotion of socio-economic development within the Community;
- any other relevant consideration.
- ERCA may withdraw or modify an authorization if it observes that:
- the conditions of the grant have changed;
- the information provided in support of the application for authorization were false or misleading;
- the conditions and obligations governing the grant of authorization are violated.
- ERCA obtains such information as it considers necessary to assist it in its investigations and inquiries and, where it considers appropriate, shall examine and obtain verification of documents submitted to it.
- ERCA has power to:
- summon and examine witnesses;
- demand any document to be communicated for examination;
- require that any document submitted to it be supported by an affidavit;
- require the furnishing of such returns or information as it may require within such period as it may specify by notice;
- adjourn any investigation or inquiry, where necessary.
- ERCA may hear orally or in writing from any person who in its opinion will be affected by an investigation or inquiry being carried out by the Authority.
- ERCA may require an enterprise or such other person as it considers appropriate to provide information concerning products manufactured, produced or supplied by that person as the Authority may deem necessary to determine whether the conduct of the business in relation to the products constitutes an anticompetitive practice.
- All enterprises or persons summoned to attend and give evidence or produce documents at any sitting of the Authority shall be bound to obey the summons served thereupon. Therefore, a person commits an offence and is liable to a fine if that person:
- without sufficient cause, fails or refuses to:
- appear before the Authority when a summons is validly served;
- produce a document which he/she is required by such summons to produce;
- destroys any record likely to be required for an investigation that has commenced under this Supplementary Act, with intent to mislead the Authority or to prevent or impede the investigation;
- being a witness, leaves a sitting of the Authority without the Authority’s permission;
- insults any member or officer of the Authority; or
- obstructs or interrupts the proceedings of the Authority.
Areas of intervention
- ERCA has competition rules in line with international standards in order to promote fairness in trade and effective liberalization of trade on the regional market;
- ERCA ensures compliance with ECOWAS competition rules, as well as the welfare of consumers and the protection of their interests;
- ERCA intervenes in the case of agreements and concerted practices likely to restrict trade, abuse of a dominant position, mergers and acquisitions, public aid distorting free competition;
- ERCA prevents and eliminates anti-competitive practices resulting from agreements and concerted practices likely to restrict trade, abuse of a dominant position in the market, mergers and acquisitions, state aid incompatible with free and fair competition (distortions);
Agreements, decisions or concerted practices which contribute to the improvement of the production or distribution of goods or to the promotion of technical or economic progress shall be exempted.
UBertil Harding, KSMD, Bijilo
Banjul, The Gambia
P.O Box 4470
Tel. : +220 2330006 / 3486966
Email : email@example.com
Website : erca-arcc.org