Namibia: New Competition Act to Address Consumer Protection Issues
The lack of consumer protection legislation in Namibia will be addressed in the new Competition Act that is currently being amended, the Namibian Competition Commission has said. In a recent interview, the Commission CEO, Mihe Gaomab II told a local business magazine, Namibia Business Journal, that the process of revising the Competition Act has commenced and the expectation is to include consumer protection provisions in the revised Act to protect consumers in Namibia. He said the Competition Act will be amended to include enabling provisions on consumer rights with regard to consumer policy protection, product choices, affordable pricing, fair promotion or advertising, contractual arrangements, and shelving the right goods at the right place. Gaomab said: "The Namibian Competition Commission needs to give greater consideration to the voice of consumers as well in competition proceedings to educate consumers on the better understanding of the significance of competition policy and law in Namibia. The Commission's work can actually yield positive outcomes for consumers as well." He said according to international practices, competition and consumer law and policy are complementary disciplines. He cited examples of countries such as Australia and Tanzania where the regulatory framework governing both is assigned to one competition authority where consumer rights and competitive outcomes are well addressed in terms of such authorities carrying out their duty towards the administration and enforcement of the Acts.
"For a small-sized population such as Namibia, we can only emulate such a model by addressing through the enforcement of competition policy and law, market failures associated with a substantial reduction of competition while at the same time addressing certain aspects of market failure which are consumer protection related such as unfair deals and lack of information disclosures on consumers.
"Such market failures, which impact on consumers, can in turn hamper competitive outcomes if they are not sufficiently addressed and therefore this gives impetus that for the foreseeable future, it is only natural that the regulatory scope of the competition policy and law is broadened in order to explicitly provide provisions for a consumer regulatory framework for the Namibian economy," Gaomab said.
By Nyasha Francis Nyaungwa