On Monday 22nd January 2024, a delegation from the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA), the regional body charged with the responsibility to ensure that member states develop a Competition Law that will ensure fair trade in their respective countries and the region, visited Sierra Leone to assist in the development of a draft Competition Law that will be locally applicable and in line with the regional framework. The delegation was introduced by the CEO of the National Consumer Protection Commission, Mr Lawrence Bassie, to the Minister of Trade and his team at his Youyi Building office in Freetown.
The CEO acquainted the Minister and team with the purpose of the visit of the delegation, which is to help the country develop a framework for the drafting of a National Competition Law that will align with the regional block’s standard. He intimated to the Minister that the delegation would be engaging with all relevant stakeholders on the said endeavour.
The Trade Minister, Hon Ibrahim Sesay, expressed pleasure in receiving them and endorsed the government’s commitment to the development of a Competition Law to address the exploitation of consumers by business people who dominate certain commodities imported and produced, adding that this Law will ensure reduction in the prices of commodities and services, which will be beneficial to the consumers, and also encourage Investment from across the region, thereby increasing trade and revenue generation for all parties, including the government.
The delegation also expressed joy in the reception given to them and informed the Minister of a Grant agreement that they have brought to help the country in that regard. The said agreement was presented to the Minister, which he signed, and an exchange of the signed document was done.
On 23rd January 2024, the delegation met with various stakeholders at a workshop held at the Freetown City Hall, where the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Madam Fatmata Wurie, eloquently delivered a passionate speech, touching on the existence of a monopoly in the business sector and the need for a Competition Law that will reduce the cost of commodities and living, as well as enhance trade and increase revenue generation. She encouraged participants to speak frankly about their experiences and about the type of Law that they want.
The postulations of the Deputy Minister were reaffirmed by the CEO of NCPC, who acknowledged that everyone in the room must have, in one way or the other, suffered from the monopoly that the government wants to put an end to. And admonished all present to speak frankly on how they want the Law to look.
He maintained that it is not going to be the case of one fit, but should capture our unique circumstances and will be aligned with the regional framework.
A presentation was done by Dr Koffie, team lead of the delegation, which encompassed the objectives of the deliberation, as well as the protocols agreed upon by the ECOWAS Heads of Governments. He noted among others that with the existence of a Competition Law, intercontinental and interregional trade will increase and a notable decrease in the prices of commodities will take place. This will, in turn, increase revenue generation for all parties.
Several other engagements were held with CSOs, Banks, Parliament, Law Officers Department, the business community and other relevant stakeholders.
The delegation left on Saturday 27th January.