Airtel Africa and ATC Currently Under Investigation by Competition Regulator

Airtel Africa and ATC are currently under investigation by the competition regulator. According to a signed statement by the Director and Chief Executive Officer of COMESA Competition Commission, Dr. Willard Mwemba, the collaboration between the two firms may just have potentially be in violation of Article 16 of its regulation, which as you should know contains a provision that helps protect against anti-competitive trade practices between member states.

Airtel Africa and ATC Currently Under Investigation

The regulator in question states that it earlier got a report that alleged ongoing anti-competitive conduct happening between Airtel and ATC.

Airtel Africa and ATC Currently Under Investigation

In 2022, ATC and Airtel Africa forged a multi-year, multi-product partnership aimed at leveraging the infrastructure provider’s sites in Nigeria, Kenya, Niger, and Uganda to bolster the network expansion efforts of the Africa-focused telecom provider.

According to reports, under the ongoing agreement, Airtel is granted annual access to specific ATC sites, while ATC receives a cash rebate from Airtel in return. Essentially, ATC receives financial compensation for utilizing its own infrastructure.

Some observers interpret this arrangement as a strategic maneuver to limit the access of other telecom operators to these critical infrastructure sites, potentially impeding competition. If substantiated, such conduct could contravene regulations set forth by the COMESA Competition Commission, which prohibit anti-competitive trade practices that hinder, restrict, or distort competition within the Common Market.

The Definitions of Anti-Competitive According To the COMESA Competitive Commission

Back in its 2019 guidelines on restrictive business practice, the COMESA Competitive Commission defined anti-competitive as “a conduct which appreciably restrains competition between the Member States and is not otherwise exempt by law or authorized in a manner required by the Regulations.”

In the statement titled “Notice of Commencement of Investigations into Alleged Anticompetitive Conduct by American Tower Corporation and Airtel Africa,” the commission assured that it will conduct a thorough examination of the existing deal between the two companies to determine whether it violates its anti-competitive regulations and its impact on the market.

What This Investigation Means

The commission clarified, however, that this investigation does not imply that ATC or Airtel have engaged in anti-competitive behavior or violated any anti-competitive regulations. It is simply an investigative process, and all relevant parties and the general public are encouraged to take note.

The ATC and Airtel Given Deadlines to Submit Their Respective Representations

The regulator has set a deadline of Thursday, March 14, 2024, for ATC and Airtel to submit their respective representations regarding the matter.



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