Foroyaa online, Gambia, August 04, 2009

An international conference on competitive market ended on Thursday at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.

The conference was organized by the Pro-Poor Advocacy Group (Pro-PAG) in partnership with the Gambia competition commission (GCC) and the consumer unity and trust society (CUTS international, unity).

The conference was a mid-term review of the 7up4 project for selected countries. The project is being simultaneously executed in seven countries; Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and the Gambia.

In his keynote address, the minister of trade, industry and employment Abdou Kolley said promoting competition culture and awareness in a country requires long and sustained programmes of advocacy and awareness campaign.

SoS Kolley explained that the Gambia has enacted its competition policy and law in 2007 with support from the commonwealth secretariat. The act he said prohibits all collusive agreements or practices which have effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition.

under the said act SoS Kolley said mergers and monopoly situations that results to or are likely to result to substantial lessening of competition are subject to investigation. He explained that the Gambia government in November 2008 established the Gambia competition commission with the appointment of the executive secretary and commission members. He stressed the need to promote the competition culture and awareness in the country, enforcing laws with limited resources and dealing with cross-border enforcement problems.

Lack of resources he said is an obstacle towards the successful implementation of competitive law. This he said is not only finance but also includes institutional capacity particularly skilled human resources among others.

The acting director of Pro-PAG john Charles N’jie, explained that August last year, Pro-PAG signed a Memorandum of understanding with CUTS centre for competitive investment economic regulations (CUTS C-CIER) to undertake a two year project. The project he said is entitled “Strengthening constituencies for effective competition regimes in select West African Countries (7up4 project). The purpose of this project he went on, is to foster a healthy competition culture through evidence-based research, capacity building and advocacy.

This conference Mr. N’jie added will offer project countries the opportunity to share their research findings, the challenges encountered and chart a way forward. The secretary general of CUTS Pradeep S. Mehta gave a background of CUTS.

e said CUTS started implementing projects on competition policy and law issues involving the 7up approach from the year 2000.

This project he said comprises of three components: Research, advocacy and capacity building activities that are undertaken at different stages of the project.

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