By Bakary Ceesay
Regional experts on Monday began a convergence at Kairaba Beach Hotel to discuss the operationalization of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA).
The task of the 5-day expert meet which began on Monday is to offer all stakeholders the opportunity to chart a course for the operations of ERCA and also discuss the unique market structure of the ECOWAS regional market.
Being a specialized agency with adjudicatory and investigative powers, ERCA also has a core mandate of keeping under review commercial activities in the Community market with a view to ascertaining practices which may distort the efficient operations of the market conduct or which may adversely affect the economic interest of consumers.
Gambia’s trade minister, Lamin Jobe, has hailed the significance of a regional competition authority as ECOWAS intensifies efforts towards the creation of a common regional market.
The Regional Competition Authority which is headquartered in Banjul was launched in July 2018 to serve as an autonomous quasi-judicial body that will implement the regional competition rules.
Ebrima Drammeh, deputy permanent secretary at Ministry of Trade said the Authority will enhance competition among businesses in the Ecowas community market to stimulate region-wide economic growth.
“Government of The Gambia has recognized and attached great importance to regional integration and as such is very much committed to the implementation of regional protocols and programmes. This newest institution of the ECOWAS Commission (ERCA) will continue to receive the needed tutelage, support and guidance from The Gambia Government for its effective operations,” said Drammeh.
The Competition Authority is established to implement the Regional Competition Rules adopted by the ECOWAS Authority in 2008.
The Rules are essentially to promote, maintain and encourage competition and enhance economic efficiency in production, trade and commerce at the regional level.
Konzi Tei,Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement of ECOWAS Commission, said the “business of these few days shall be focused on adopting decisions that would promote compliance with the Regional Competition Rules adopted in 2008 by ECOWAS Authority”.
Verbah Gayflor, the ECOWAS ambassador to The Gambia, delivered a speech on behalf of the president of the ECOWAS Commission on the importance of the Competition Authority.
Gayflor also spoke on the role being played by the Commission towards the creation of the regional common market.