Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) has raised the alarm over import duties of between 5 to 10 per cent charged on solar panels by Nigerian Customs Service despite being classified as zero tariffs under the CET code 8541.4010.00.
The association believed the demand of import duty on solar equipment would hamper the Federal Government’s plan to increase access to electricity through mini grid.
This, the association said, has grave implications for Nigeria’s quest to improve the ease of doing business and deepen energy access for over 70 million people without adequate access to electricity.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, REAN’s President, Segun Adaju, said that the discharge of goods from the ports has been slowed down immensely and demurrage charges have risen for solar panel importers since January this year.
He stated; “Nigeria moved up 24 places, from 169th to 145th on the Word Bank Ease of Doing Business Report in 2017 because this administration has demonstrated a willingness to improve the business climate and ensure the survival of the private sector.
“We commend the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) team on its successes thus far. However, it will be counterproductive for government agencies at the ports to operate in a manner that sets them against the vision of government. This will reverse achievements this government has made thus far.
“As concerned Nigerians and sector participants, the members of REAN have answered the national call by providing solutions to the country’s epileptic power situation and our members currently provide over 10,000 direct jobs to the Nigerian economy. This is apart from the other benefits like increased disposable incomes, improved environmental conditions, like reduced noise and air pollution due to displacement of diesel generation.”
Adaju therefore called on the Federal Government and Ministry of Finance to establish a dedicated taskforce for renewable energy and energy efficiency within the Nigerian customs that would fast track screening of renewable energy and energy efficiency components coming into the country and streamline the cumbersome importation process
The Co-founder/Chief Executive Officer of Arnergy, emphasized the need for the Federal Government to work towards the eventual elimination of all import tariffs and Value Added Tax on solar panels, components and related appliances.
He said: “Government should carry the stakeholders along in its attempt to change the Harmonised System (HS) codes, which is used to determine the rate of VAT and tariffs imposed on imports. “Imagine a situation whereby an investor imports containers of solar panels. The containers arrive at the port; charges have been paid, only for customs to change the HS code from zero to 10 per cent. This would affect the business model”, he added.
Co-founder/Chief Operating Officer, Auxano Solar Nigeria Limited, said that Nigeria currently does not have capacity to manufacture solar panels in volumes that can meet market demand, hence REAN’s recourse to importation while growing capacity locally.He insisted that the tariff would increase acquisition cost of solar panels in Nigeria, which are currently heavily deplored in rural areas where purchasing power is low.