State owned corporations and competition

The Competition amendment Bill has sparked debate on the role of competition in delivering increased participation and economic transformation. This is not surprising given that the nature of competitive rivalry and the identity of market participants are central to the quality of growth that can be achieved. However, there is a danger in seeing the Bill as a silver bullet for addressing concentration and reducing barriers to entry. Though the competition authorities have been successful in uncovering cartels and prosecuting abuses of market power this has not necessarily resulted in lessened concentration and vibrant competition in these markets. This points to a need for a wider competition policy to tackle barriers to entry and to achieve a more inclusive and efficient economy. This requires reflection on other factors that contribute to barriers to entry and expansion.

State owned corporations have been serial offenders of competition law. Of the 21 abuse of dominance complaints referred to the Tribunal between October 1999 and September 2016, 13 involved former or current SOCs. SOCs often hold monopoly positions and control essential infrastructure and the record has been that of abuse of monopoly positions and even leveraging market power into adjacent markets. In addition, SOCs have often been protected by policy and regulation with the result of raising barriers to entry and dampening rivalry. How do we facilitate greater competition in these markets?

Join CCRED as we unpack the impact of SOCs on the markets in which they operate. In particular, the following questions will be addressed:

  • In what ways have SOCs’ anti-competitive conduct and policies to protect them from competition impacted on key markets in terms of barriers to entry and outcomes for consumers?
  • Are there alternative ways of managing and regulating SOCs which can provide for more competitive outcomes and what are the gains from exposing SOCs to greater competition?
  • How can we ensure that key social objectives are met while still preventing SOCs from distorting competition in key markets: do we need a competition policy targeted at SOCs?

The discussion will reflect on a CCRED working paper on these issues which presents evidence from the telecommunications and energy sectors.

Presenters: Pamela Mondliwa (CCRED) and Genna Robb (Acacia Economics & CCRED research fellow)
Discussants: Tembinkosi Bonakele (Competition Commission) and Dr Rod Crompton (Energy Leadership Centre, Wits Business School)

Venue: CCRED Seminar Room, 1st Floor, 6 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg. (Click here for map)

Date: 7 February 2018

Time: 15:00-16:30
RSVP by email to