COMESA COMPETITION COMMISSION OPENS ITS DOORS
Maximum penalties for the contravention of the Rules have also been provided for. Importantly, for merging parties, the thresholds for merger notifications have been set at zero, meaning that all mergers with a COMESA dimension are now notifiable.
Parties to a transaction that falls within the scope of the COMESA Commission's jurisdiction have 30 days from the date of reaching an agreement to merge to notify the merger to COMESA for investigation.
The COMESA competition regime will have a significant impact on how transactions in Africa are managed. Before 14 January, merging parties were required to notify national competition authorities with jurisdiction for approval of certain merger transactions. The effect of the COMESA Commission opening its doors is that a single merger filing can be prepared and submitted to the COMESA Commission for investigation and approval. National competition authorities in the COMESA region will be able to request the COMESA Commission to grant jurisdiction to a national competition authority to investigate a particular merger of national importance in certain circumstances. It remains to be seen how national regulators and the COMESA Commission will address jurisdictional issues in these circumstances.
The COMESA Commission is headed by Director and CEO, Mr George Lipimile. Ms Mary Gurure, formerly of the Zimbabwe Competition & Tariff Commission, joined the COMESA Commission as Manager, Legal Services and Compliance on 3 December 2012 and Mr Willard Mwemba, formerly of the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission joined the COMESA Commission as Manager of Mergers this year.
The Commission has already invited parties who may have existing agreements that violate the provisions of the Regulations to apply to the Commission for authorisation or exemption of their existing or proposed agreements. To the extent that such agreements have an anti-competitive