ERCA Sensitization workshop for Nigeria Competition Stakeholders on the ECOWAS Regional Competition Framework

Advocacy Nigeria
Advocacy Nigeria

With the collaboration of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) organized on 13 December 2021 at the Stonehedge Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, an advocacy and sensitization workshop with the aim of creating awareness on the ECOWAS Regional Competition Framework and on its existence and operation.

This workshop gathered experts of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), the Civil Society Associations, the Consumer Protection Associations, law chambers, sector regulators, etc. The objectives of the workshop were to sensitize Nigeria competition stakeholders on the existence of the Regional Competition Framework and ERCA, but also to ensure their awareness and ownership of the competition framework as well as the institutional relationship between regional and national bodies in the area of competition. It also enlightened the participants on the modalities for ERCA’s future interventions.

The opening ceremony was made of three (3) statements and one goodwill message: the first one was made by Dr. Simeon Koffi, Ag. Executive Director of ERCA, followed by the good will message of the Honourable Commissionner Chuma Mbonu, representing the chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, the second one by Dr. Ola Raheem, representing the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services of the FCCPC and finally the Honourable Commissioner Adamou Abdulahi representing the Executive Vice Chairman of the FCCPC.

In welcoming the participants in the workshop, Dr. Simeon KOFFI, on behalf of the President and the Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons of the ECOWAS Commission expressed his profound gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission and the ERCA Staff. He thanked the Government and the People of Nigeria and the FCCPC for all the efforts put together for the success of the workshop. After recalling the need for ERCA and Member States to work together and ensure that there is an in-depth dialogue on the competition policy, he introduced the content of the session, before wishing to the participants a fruitful workshop.

Following the welcome statement of the Ag. Executive Director of ERCA, Mr. Chuma Mbonu, Honourable Commissioner, representing the Chair of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal thanked all participants of being present in the workshop and hoped that after the workshop, they will all be enriched and urged them to take advantage of the services of the Tribunal. He then appreciated ERCA and the FCCPC.,

Dr Ola Raheem, representing the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services of the FCCPC expressed his pleasure of making a statement in this workshop which will increase consumer and business awareness and recalled the mandate of the FCCPC which is to promote collaboration with local and international competition organizations. After recalling that competition and consumer protection affects a day to day living of people and may affect cross border collaboration, he wished fruitful deliberations to the participants.

In his turn, Mr. Adamu Abdulahi, representing the Executive Vice-Chairman of the FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukeru, expressed his pleasure to welcome the selective audience in the workshop on the ECOWAS Regional Competition Framework jointly organized by ERCA and FCCPC. He recalled the role of competition which is to provide fairly and ethically for the competitive practices, providing consumer protection, prohibiting trading and business practices that have negative effects on the economy.

He further expressed his comfort to notice that there is a regional body in charge of competition and commended ERCA and the FCCPC for jointly organizing the workshop which will ensure that there is a smooth operation of national and regional competition frameworks. Mr. Abdulahi further urged ERCA to provide strong protection against all anti-competitive practices before declaring open the workshop.

Three (3) presentations followed the opening ceremony:

The first one made by Dr. Simeon Koffi on the ECOWAS Competition Framework recalled the objectives of the workshop and the need for ownership, collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders on the regional competition framework. He also demonstrated the direct link between competition, business and trade development. After presenting the two (2) Supplementary Acts respectively on the Community Competition Rules and the establishment of ERCA, its attributions, functions and areas of intervention, he gave an overview on projects and studies that are ongoing in 2021 and yet to be launched in 2022. After this presentation, the floor was open for questions and comments that were related to public policy analysis, power sector, consumer protection, AFCFTA negotiations coordination, single market, infrastructure, investments, State Aid, etc.

The second presentation which was made by Barr. Leonard Ugbajah was related to the competition policy in relation to the AFCFTA. After introducing the topic, the speaker emphasized on the spread of the competition law in recent years and indicated that competition is about efficacy, monopoly, oligopoly, etc. Dealing with cross border competition issues, he underscored the importance of cooperation in a regional integration arrangement like AFCFTA or ECOWAS. After establishing a comparative analysis of existing regional and continental arrangements, he indicated that multiple regional competition regimes and overlapping memberships make efficiency difficult and therefore proposed that the AFCFTA continental arrangement should avoid creating a supranational organ with binding decisions but rather a coordination framework that should engage in dispute settlement and a regional cooperation to solve issues.

Due to weak national competition regimes, the speaker finally advocated for the acceleration of capacity building and for a regional initiative to adopt trainings/programs.

The last presentation made in the NGO perspective by Ms. Sola Solako-Ajolu (Founder of the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, CAFN) dealt with the topic “Competition and Consumer Protection regime in Nigeria” raised the issue of in-balance of the knowledge between the producers and the suppliers. She further advocated for the creation of a conducive environment and right of consumer. She acknowledged the lack of funds and the need for strengthening of capacity building, training and international exposure, collaboration and more awareness in order to ensure that the standard of living is improved.

Following the three (3) presentations, an interaction session took place and enabled the participants to ask questions or make contributions, after which participants were divided in three (3) thematic groups that came up with few recommendations on means for domestication and ownership of the regional competition Framework in Nigeria as well as avenues for collaboration and cooperation between ERCA and Nigeria national Stakeholders.

In other to have bilateral exchanges for the establishment of collaboration and information sharing frameworks with various stakeholders, ERCA embarked the following day on working visits with the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN), the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the National Assembly Committee on Commerce, as well as the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

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