Breaking down barriers: unlocking Africa's potential through vigorous competition policy

Boosting competition in consumer markets and key input sectors can help African countries grow faster and alleviate poverty, according to a report launched today by the World Bank Group and the African Competition Forum (ACF). The report, Breaking Down Barriers, finds that reducing the prices of basic food staples by just 10%, as a result of tackling cartels and improving regulations that limit competition in food markets, could lift nearly half a million people in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia alone out of poverty and save households in these countries over US$700 million a year. At the same time, fundamental market reforms to increase competition in key sectors is critical for competitiveness and economic growth. For example, if countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia and others were to reform their professional services markets, this could generate nearly half a percentage point in GDP growth from industries which use these services intensively. For a country like Zambia, which had 1.7% GDP growth in 2015, this can be significant. The report also suggests that the impact would be even larger if fundamental reforms were implemented in other services such as electricity, telecommunications, and transport which have higher spillover potential across economies.