Revise competition laws on innovations, says watchdog boss

CAK Director General Wang’ombe Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG
CAK Director General Wang’ombe Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya needs to open a national conversation on emerging digital innovations that are disrupting business norms, threatening to wipe out old players.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) reckons that while digital innovations have helped startups to grab considerable market share and consumers to enjoy better services, there is need for a new approach to laws on competition in the sector.

“Disruptive innovations such as app-based taxis versus traditional taxis have brought new challenges on existing policy frameworks.

As a result, there has been concerted effort to realign the application of competition law and policy to deal with emerging issues,” said CAK Director General Wang’ombe Kariuki.

Mr Kariuki welcomed digital innovations saying Kenyans had benefited from lower prices and better services.

He observed that more jobs and companies were being created as the innovations space continues to expand.

Mr Kariuki, who was speaking in Thika during the World Competition Day celebrations attended by local company executives and residents, said traditional service providers had been forced to rethink their marketing and operations strategy as well as fast-track the adoption of IT platforms.

CAK said the event was important as it called for an annual action plan for creating awareness on competition practices among Kenyans, thereby entrenching a culture of healthy competition in the economy.

Among issues addressed include business to business competition and consumer related matters.

The global fete commemorates the United Nations Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 5, 1980.

Notable disruptive innovations include taxi-hailing apps which have redefined how Kenyans consume the services, edging out traditional players.

On the other hand, apps from non-banking products such as M-Pesa have redefined the way Kenyans transfer cash and pay for products and services.