Launched in September 2022, the Trust and Competition in Digital Economies: Promoting an Enabling Environment for Consumer Protection and Competition Across Africa initiative is a collaboration between USAID and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
With USAID support and catalytic funding, the Trust and Competition in Digital Economies initiative harnesses the FTC's technical expertise, capacity-building programs, convening power, and relationships across the region to help authorities adopt and implement policy, legal, regulatory, and enforcement frameworks that protect consumers and competition.
This initiative identifies and pursues priority engagements through:
- Assessment and consultations - These engagements determine which digital economy issues are of most urgent concern for authorities in Africa (e.g. a spike in online fraud in one country or evidence of monopoly control over digital infrastructure in another). Through consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, the FTC uses insights to determine its approach to experience sharing, capacity building, and training.
- Consensus building - Once priority issues are identified, the FTC uses its convening power and relationships to promote a shared understanding and support for actions to advance pro-competition and pro-consumer outcomes.
- Capacity building - Once priorities are identified and buy-in with relevant stakeholders is secured, the FTC devotes its staff resources to a series of experience-sharing and capacity-building activities. This might include, for example, workshops, targeted technical assistance, and international fellows programs, and involve experts from across the U.S. Government, as appropriate.
- Learning and dissemination of insights - Throughout implementation, the FTC will work with stakeholders to understand what types of engagement are the most effective and lay the groundwork for new efforts, coalitions, or partnerships among authorities on the continent to address these issues over the long term.
Through this initiative, the FTC will work in concert with other U.S. Government counterparts, such as the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, regional bodies on the African continent, and country-level counterpart authorities to strengthen the legal and regulatory frameworks and institutional capacity necessary to ensure that the benefits of the digital economy are not undermined by anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive practices.
Robust frameworks for competition and consumer protection are indispensable foundations for partner countries seeking to promote inclusive economic growth, sustain economic competitiveness, promote gender equality and equity, support resilient democratic institutions, and strengthen the rule of law. If in place, these frameworks can also protect against harms that are unique to the digital economy, as well (for example, online fraud, scams, cyber attacks, algorithmic bias, and the misuse of data).
This initiative advances USAID priorities outlined in the USAID Digital Strategy to strengthen inclusive, open, and secure digital ecosystems and advances broader U.S. Government strategies, programs, and initiatives, including the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP), Declaration for the Future of the Internet, U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, and National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality.
The Trust and Competition in Digital Economies initiative is managed by USAID's Innovation, Technology, and Research Hub's Technology Division and Center for Economics and Market Development.