Most countries in Southern Africa are net importers of products from South Africa and are therefore likely to be subject to South African cartels. Imports from South Africa cut across sectors including food, capital equipment, construction materials, energy, plastics and chemical products. Moreover regional markets are closely linked through the presence of South African companies in the rest of the region. This article expands on an earlier article in this Review on the possible impacts of some of the South African cartels on the region, as part of CCRED’s monitoring of competition case developments and the evolution of enforcement in the region.
The South African Competition Commission has been very successful in uncovering cartels, with a large number of settlements over the past 10 years. It should be noted that settlements typically involve an admission on the part of the companies involved. Given the regional scope of many companies’ activities across southern Africa this begs the question as to whether these cartels affected neighbouring countries and should also be prosecuted in these countries.
Representatives of competition authorities from various African countries frankly discussed cartel penalties, settlement and leniency programmes at the CCRED Annual Competition and Economic Regulation Week in March 2015 in Zimbabwe. In this discussion, authorities highlighted the challenges of enforcement actions involving complex collusive conduct, the need for deterrent penalties, the lack of local case precedent developed through rigorous contested hearings, and the resource constraints which hamper enforcement actions and deterrence in particular.