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A New Dawn for African Antitrust in Uganda

 |  April 12, 2024

By: Simon M. Mutungi, Ph.D. (African Antitrust)

Competition law, originally known as antitrust law, traces its roots back to 19th century North America. During this time, large corporations would enter into legal agreements, forming trusts to consolidate their assets and collaborate as a unified entity to maximize profits at the expense of consumers. To illustrate this concept, imagine being a child in kindergarten, selecting the biggest and strongest classmates to ensure victory in a tug-of-war match even before it begins.

John D. Rockefeller, a prominent figure in modern history, epitomized this practice by establishing Standard Oil, a trust that controlled approximately 90 percent of America’s oil refining capacity. With such dominance, Rockefeller could dictate oil prices and prioritize profits over product quality, with little concern for competition. Recognizing the harmful effects of these monopolistic practices on consumers and the economy, neighboring Canada enacted the world’s first competition law in 1889, followed by the United States in 1890, leading to the term “Antitrust” law.

Fast forward 134 years, Uganda has finally embraced this crucial regulatory framework with the recent presidential approval of the Competition Act 2023. Prior to this, Uganda primarily relied on sectoral and regional laws to address competition issues. The introduction of the Competition Act signifies a significant step forward in Uganda’s economic legislation, aimed at fostering a fair business environment and enhancing consumer welfare.

This editorial serves as a primer on competition law, tailored for businesses and individuals unfamiliar with the concept, within the context of Uganda’s new legislation…