There have been widespread calls for data costs in South Africa to be reduced in recent years. In 2018, the entry of a new competitor, Rain, shows how increased competition in South Africa’s telecommunications industry can reduce data costs and increase innovation. Since 2013, the price of a 1GB data bundle has not fallen below R149 (with the exception of Telkom Mobile).
Part of the focus of the proposed amendments to the Competition Act is on preventing creeping concentration. Creeping concentration results from a series of mergers and acquisitions that individually do not raise market power substantially, but do so collectively. Firms can increase market share through mergers and acquisitions, and consequently increase market power and concentration in markets.
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.
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) set floor prices for data and voice services including promotional packages, effective in January 2017. The floor prices are set at $0.12 per minute for voice services, and $0.02 per megabyte for data. Initially data prices were below $0.01 per megabyte.
According to the South African Competition Act, the competition authorities are obliged to consider public interest grounds in merger analysis. The guidelines which were recently finalised by the Competition Commission of South Africa, and gazetted in 2 June 2016, seek to provide guidance on how the Commission will evaluate public interest considerations when evaluating mergers.