Kenyans Defy Higher Taxes, Harsh Economic Environment To Import More Cars


Kenyans defied a harsh economic environment and new taxation regime to import vehicles worth more than 117 billion shillings (about US$1.15 billion) last year, according to the latest figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The KNBS reported here Tuesday that the amount represented a 15.6% increase in the value of vehicle imports into the country from 101 billion shillings in 2014 and 83.4 billion a year earlier.

Last year, the Kenya Revenue Authority imposed new rates on imported vehicles, ranging between 150,000 and 200,000 shillings.

The importation of second hand vehicles, especially from Japan and Singapore, continues to rise despite the government’s effort to dissuade such imports in favor of locally assembled vehicles.

Local vehicle assembler have been decrying the high number of units of imported automobiles in the country, saying it is killing the local car industry.

In 2014, KNBS reported, more than 9,250 vehicles were assembled in the country up from of 5,000 in 2009. However, this figure was dwarfed by more than 70,000 vehicles that Kenyans imported in the same year.

Small cars accounted for more than 70 per cent of all imported vehicles, which is likely to compound the problem of traffic jams on Kenyan roads and high levels of pollution.

At 117.6 billion shillings, cars were the third largest import item behind industrial machinery at 211 billion and petroleum products at 214 billion shillings.

The value of petroleum product imports represented a 26 per cent drop from 2014 because of lower oil prices.