NAIROBI, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The East African Community (EAC) member states are planning to phase out all import duties on solar panels in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, an official said on Tuesday.
Benson Mwakina, the Director of Renewable at Kenya's Ministry of Energy, told Xinhua in Nairobi that the EAC Council of Ministers in Charge of Energy has already agreed to scrap levies on solar equipment.
"The decision will soon be sent to the EAC Heads of States who are expected to endorse the removal of all import tariffs for solar panels by the end of the year," Mwakina said.
The EAC partner states include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Mwakina said that none of the countries in the regional bloc manufactures solar equipment and are therefore dependent on imports.
He said currently some countries in the trading bloc levy taxes on solar equipment, which can lead to smuggling of the products by unscrupulous traders seeking to take advantage of the different taxation regime.
Mwakina noted that under the EAC Common External Tariffs, the region is supposed to have harmonized taxes on all goods imported into the economic bloc.
He added that the region is committed to promote the use of renewable energy sources for both domestic and household needs so as to reduce emission of green house gases.
The Kenyan official noted that the bulk of the residents in the economic bloc use biomass for cooking and kerosene for household lighting needs.
"We are hoping to promote environmental protection by reducing the cost of solar products in the region," Mwakina said.