It is widely accepted that the cornerstone of a successful market economy is the existence of a “competition culture” within a country and that an understanding by the public of the benefits of competition and broad-based support for a strong competition policy is essential.
In this regard the Namibian Competition Commission has organised its Competition and Consumer Week to sensitise stakeholders on the impact of cartels on the economy and the consequences that businesses who engage in cartel activities might face.
The fifth annual competition and Consumer Week will also serve as an opportunity to share best practices and experiences in dealing with cartels in various jurisdictions. This year’s theme is ‘Cartels and their impact on the economy’.
“The objective of most competition laws is to protect competition, which in the process enhances efficiency in economic activity and promotes consumer welfare. It is no doubt that cartels prevent competition and cause participating firms to act collectively as a monopoly, or near monopoly.
“As long as they remain in this state, there is little need to innovate and hence keep the economy in a low-growth situation, while extracting higher prices from consumers.
“In almost all cases, cartels are a bad thing for consumers and for the economy,” said acting chief executive officer of the NaCC Vitalis Ndalikokule at the launch of the event on Friday.
Ndalikokule noted that the benefits of competition arise because competition encourages businesses to strive harder to win customers.
“Consumers benefit from having a choice of suppliers and producers competing for their customers by offering better prices and better quality. When consumers benefit from competition, the economy does too. In order to achieve all that, competition advocacy does play a crucial role in promoting the culture of competition,” he said.
Competition advocacy includes all activities of a competition agency that are intended to promote competition, apart from those that involve enforcement of the competition law.
In that light, the NaCC initiated its annual Competition Week in September 2012 and established itself as an important advocacy forum on competition law. It aims to sensitise the public and industries on the importance of compliance with the competition law and policy, the importance of fair competition to the economy, and also to create a platform for the exchange of ideas about competition issues and concerns.
This year’s events will run from September 12 to 16. The activities will include a university students’ essay competition for those studying law and economics, a public lecture at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) on August 31, media engagements, a breakfast meeting on September 13 at the Hilton Hotel and a conference on September 14 at Arebbusch Lodge. The week will conclude with World Bank stakeholder engagement.
The conference aims to bring together numerous distinguished speakers from established organisations and private sector practitioners and will present participants with a rare opportunity to learn first-hand from the speakers’ experiences to gain insight into the subject matter.
Also speaking at the launch, acting director of economics and sector research at the NaCC Josef Hausiku said an event like the Competition Week provides an opportunity for competition stakeholders to engage on issues of mutual concern, as well as offering a platform to raise and deepen awareness of competition-related issues.
“The event is also held to appreciate the stakeholders’ efforts in supporting the Commission in achieving its mandate. It is our hope that with each stakeholder engagement, there is a significant addition to the culture of competition in Namibia,” Hausiku said.