Sunday, May 26, 2019
Book Review: Michal Gal on Eleanor M. Fox and Mor Bakhoum, Making Markets Work for Africa (Oxford 2019)
Book Review of Eleanor M. Fox and Mor Bakhoum, Making Markets Work for Africa (Oxford, 2019), by Prof. Michal S. Gal
Eleanor Fox and Mor Bakhoum’s new book, Making Markets Work for Africa (Oxford University Press, 2019), is a tour de force study of the interaction between markets, development, and competition law in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a must read for anyone interested in competition law in developing jurisdictions.
Fox and Bakhoum, both world-renowned experts on competition law in developing jurisdictions, combine their unique talents, knowledge and expertise to offer us an in-depth analysis of the challenges faced by sub-Saharan jurisdictions in making their markets work. Their book not only analyzes in a systematic manner the unique features of Sub-Saharan countries, but also offers thoughtful and thought-provoking insights and suggestions, both at the local as well as at the global level.
The book is comprised of two main parts. The first focuses on three groups of states in sub-Saharan Africa, based on their location and shared history. The socioeconomic characteristics of the different jurisdictions are carefully analyzed, as well as their history of market control mechanisms, and the content and application of their competition laws. Regional competition law agreements are then analyzed, focusing on their huge potential benefits and their internal limitations. One of the many strengths of this part is its ability to use country-specific examples to reach boarder observations.
The second part then offers a roadmap towards more workable markets. To do so, Professors Fox and Bakhoum define four groups of countries, based on their level of development, from least developing jurisdictions to developed jurisdictions. The analysis enables them to highlight the different challenges faced by each group, as well as the difficulties in applying a one-size-fits-all competition law to all jurisdictions. The authors then offer numerous insightful and important suggestions on how to design competition laws in a way which would best serve developing and least developing jurisdictions in Africa. Some suggestions, such as giving priority to agriculture and infrastructure, or devising tools to limit the control of government cronies which do not serve consumers, are widely accepted. Other thoughtful suggestions, such as reconsidering the application of the “as-efficient” test as the benchmark for exclusionary foreclosures, or defining markets in a way which takes into account the level of development of the market, might require the reader to challenge his assumptions about how competition law should be applied in developing jurisdictions. The analysis is both important and novel.
Despite the fact that the book focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, it has much boarder implications, and many of its insights and suggestions are relevant to all, or at least most, developing jurisdictions around the world. Accordingly, anyone interested in competition law in developing jurisdictions will surely benefit from this book. It will appeal to newcomers in the field, as well as to those long involved in the field, who seek a fresh and highly thoughtful analysis of the relevant challenges.
Prof. Michal S. Gal, University of Haifa Faculty of Law, and president of ASCOLA.