African Competition Forum (ACF) held its Biennial Conference in Banjul co-hosted by Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) and the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA).

The African Competition Forum (ACF) held its Biennial Conference in Banjul on the theme Fostering Competition for Inclusive Growth and Sustainability in Africa from the 31st October to 1st November 2023, in Banjul, Republic of the Gambia.

The African Competition Forum (ACF) is a network of competition agencies and practitioners comprising forty members, including five regional competition authorities whose mission is to promote and advance competition policy in Africa. ACF provides a platform for competition authorities to exchange knowledge and experiences, and to develop and implement effective competition policies and practices . The Forum was chosen by the African Union as a key partner in the implementation of the ratified AfCFTA Competition Protocol.

The Banjul conference brought together Members of the ACF and other competition experts to discuss among other things, pertinent competition issues in key sectors and develop competition and consumer-oriented solutions that will make African markets more competitive and enable consumers access  quality goods and services at the least possible prices.

The Executive Director of ERCA, Dr Simeon Koffi joined the GCCPC in welcoming participants to The Gambia for the biennial conference of the African Competition Forum and expressed gratitude to the Gambian authorities for all the facilities put in place for the holding of this meeting. Speaking on the theme of the conference, The Executive Director pointed out that the issue of inclusive growth and sustainable development remains a burning issue and occupies a prominent place in development strategies in Africa, but lamented the fact that development objectives defined by our States are often compromised by the absence of a competitive environment, which is an essential dimension of sustained growth.

He further indicated that the African continent today needs efficient and organized regulatory authorities capable of protecting private initiatives and facilitating trade. To this end, the adoption of the AfCFTA Protocol on Competition by the AU is a decisive step in creating a competitive environment in Africa.

The ED underscored the need to strengthen the role of national regulatory authorities to complement the work of regional authorities, which are strong pillars in deepening the process of continental integration.

Declaring the meeting open, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional  Integration, and Employment of  The Gambia, Mr Baboucarr .O Joof,  on behalf of His Excellency President Adama Barrow,  welcomed Members to Banjul.

 He expressed optimism that the conference will expose all countries to best practices and provide guidance in implementing effective and efficient competition regimes and create an avenue for a well-grounded intellectual discussion on how we can all come together to establish meaningful policies that will regulate our markets both for the short and long term.

He applauded the launching of the two-cross country competition studies conducted by the ACF on International Roaming Charges and the Pharmaceutical sector in Africa, as important in highlighting the underlying challenges affecting competition and consumer welfare in these sectors and underscored the importance of developing adequate frameworks to implement the recommendations of the studies to ensure impactful results. He concluded by reiterating the commitment of the Government of The Gambia to supporting the implementation of sound competition and consumer protection policies and to providing all the support required by ERCA, as the host country.