Lack of common standards for blending ethanol with petrol is limiting East Africa's ability to use biofuels in reducing the carbon emissions from fossil fuels in the transport sector.
The growing demand for petroleum products among the East Africa Community (EAC) member countries has seen a rise in greenhouse gas emissions. However, these can be reduced through use of ethanol from sugar plantations and biodiesel from croton nuts, jatropha curcas plant and other feedstocks.
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan are yet to come up with common regional standards of blending ethanol with petrol. It also applies to the blending of biodiesel with fossil fuel diesel.
"These trends combined with the region's dependence on fuel imports make it imperative for policy makers to encourage a shift to alternative transport fuels," said Renewable Energy Policy Network for 21st Century.
Kenya in 2007, introduced a policy on blending ethanol with petrol and drafted a biodiesel licensing regulations under the Kenya 2008 Roadmap for Biofuels.
The regulations are yet to be approved. Last year, Uganda's Cabinet approved Biofuels Blending Bill that calls for blending of 20 per cent biofuels. The Bill that proposes tax rebates and other incentives to potential investors is yet to go through parliament.
Tanzania also drafted a Liquid Biofuels Policy in 2010 but it is yet to be approved.
The region imported 8.2 million tonnes of refined oil products in 2014, an increase of 6 per cent from 2013. EAC's petroleum imports are estimated to grow by over 8 per cent this year.
Traffic congestion in major cities and towns in the region makes vehicles key source of heightened urban pollution.