East African Community (EAC) member states are racing against time to finalise talks on proposals to lower age limit for imported used cars by 2021.
The move to slash age limit to five years is informed by the urgency to spur the growth of motor assembly industries.
At the just-concluded Heads of State Summit in Kampala, it was agreed that the process should be accelerated.
Talks on harmonisation of age limits for imported vehicles and setting up assembly plants had been put on hold following recommendations of a study by EAC Committee on Industrialisation and Japan International Co-operation Agency, which said such undertaking (harmonisation process) would be grim without reducing the number of vehicles imported into the region.
According to the proposals, the six countries — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan — will reduce age limits for imported vehicles to five years by 2021. But it is understood that some countries are yet to ‘make up their minds’.
Their indecisiveness is now holding back the entire process, according to sources familiar with the matter. Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan would be the most affected because they do not have age limits set on such imports, while Tanzania and Kenya have their limits set at 10 and eight years respectively.
Kenya favours the five-year age limit and has previously cautioned other partner states that they are likely to meet resistance during negotiations.
“A further review of age limit to five years, would be crucial in luring investments into the assembling sector,” said Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed recently during the formal launch of the Isuzu East Africa brand to the Kenyan market.
Already, a host of vehicle manufactures have begun local assembling of certain makes, while others are considering building plants. Kenya stopped the importation of cars whose years of first registration are below 2010 through a gazette notice in December last year.
The directive also instructed vehicles from countries where Kenya Bureau of Standards has Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) inspection arrangements, to be accompanied by Certificates of Roadworthiness.
The move to further lower age limit of cars to five years, is however, bound to meet friction, with most car importers already opposed to the five-year age limit rule saying it will lock most of them out of business.
If implemented today (2018), then car importers will have no choice but to buy vehicles manufactured not earlier than 2013, whose prices are quite high, depending on the brand and target market.
Article by: Steve Umidha @steveumidha