Fuel and Other Goods Kenyans Are Smuggling to Beat High Taxes

Due to the unfavourable business environment in the country, Kenyan traders are now employing unconventional methods to keep their operations alive including smuggling goods through the Ethiopian border. 

According to a report by BNN, an international publication, most of the goods being smuggled through the border include; fuel, alcohol and cigarettes. 

Border towns along the Kenya-Ethiopia border are flourishing due to the sale of smuggled goods at significantly reduced prices, creating a thriving black market in the region. 

The cheap goods are making their way into Nairobi, providing consumers with affordable alternatives while depriving the government of much-needed revenue.

Kenya’s President Ruto, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy hold bilateral talks

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While high taxation in Kenya has been pointed out as a key contributing factor to the smuggling business, the lack of strong trade ties between the two countries has also been blamed as a factor contributing to the rise of black market trade.

It is worth noting that Kenya has a free trade deal with East African Communities (EAC) but has no such agreement with Ethiopia.

This has resulted in a lack of specified tariffs between Kenya and Ethiopia making it cumbersome for traders to export goods to Kenya legally.

Due to the bureaucratic hurdles at formal border points, traders have opted for the extensive porous border, making it simpler to smuggle high-demand goods into the Kenyan market. 

In response, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has intensified efforts to curb this illicit trade. 

In August, KEBS officials seized millions worth of smuggled goods from Eastleigh Market, underscoring the ongoing challenges posed by border smuggling.

“They (goods) are coming through porous borders and we have heightened surveillance as the products are dangerous to human beings,” an official from KEBS stated then. 

In Kenya, petrol prices have been increasing steadily every month and were retailing at Ksh211 in September. 

This has forced Kenyans to seek cheaper alternatives including smuggling and converting cars to use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). 

A person fueling a vehicle.


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