Reduction of emissions to limit global warming is at the centre of a weeklong forum to deliberate on clean mobility that ends in Nairobi today.
Dubbed the Africa Clean Mobility Week, the forum that brings together delegates drawn from 42 African Governments are examining the impact on the environment of emissions from used and old vehicles imported into the continent where they are contributing to 23 per cent of greenhouse gases, a phenomenon likely to grow unabated in the next decade.
The forum at the United Nations environment Program (UNEP) Headquarters in Gigiri noted that the global transport sector was contributing significantly to global air pollution pandemic estimated to kill over seven million people per year, ,hence the need for a shift to non-fossil fuelled, zero and low emission vehicles. .
Delegates singled out transport as the main contributor to outdoor air pollution in African cities that is causing millions of premature deaths annually and billions of dollars in economic cost at a time the entire continent is experiencing high motorization growth rates at 10 per cent and above, a problem exasperated by the inability by national and local governments to provide adequate transport infrastructure and services.
UNEP’s Executive Director Mr. Erik Solheim said in his remarks to the forum only a global approach incorporating developed, developing and transitional countries can achieve the necessary emission deductions and energy savings. He said UN Environment supports emission freelectric mobility worldwide.
“Developing and transitional countries have the fastest growing fleets. Three out of four cars on the road will be in these countries by 2050 yet most of them have no policies in place to promote zero emission vehicles,” he said.
The forum noted that poor fuel quality that for years was a bane for Africa had witnessed tremendous improvement with the elimination of the highly toxic lead in most African countries. “Lead was eliminated in East Africa in 2006. We are currently working on reducing Sulphur contents to below 50 parts per million (ppm),” noted Ms Wanjiku Manyara, General Manager of the Petroleum Institute of East Africa.
She urged the assemblers, manufacturers and importers of vehicles to be guided by the need for cleaner emissions to supplement efforts being made on cleaner fuels and the move to electric and hybrid fuelled models that have taken off in the developed world....
Ms Elisa Dumitrescu of UN Environment said matters were made worse by an ageing vehicle fleet in a majority of the countries. ” Used imported vehicles average 15 years old in age in a region where many countries lack regulations necessary to attract import of cleaner and fuel-efficient vehicles” she said.
Ugandan delegate Gerald Banaga Baingi of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said imported used vehicles were not leaving the African continent any time soon. “Let our governments concentrate on improving road infrastructure for a smoother flow of vehicles to avoid wastage in traffic snarl ups because new vehicles are only cheap to obtain where they are manufactured like in Japan,” he said.
Commenting on the ever rising high cost of fuel wreaking havoc on many African economies that import the commodity. Malawi delegate Chemwenwe Kaunda from the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development urged African Governments to emulate Malawi where readily available vegetable oils blended with imported fuels is cutting out costs.
“We are using non edible jatroba oil that is a source of biodiesel to blend the imported commodity,” Kamwemwe said.
It was noted that ethanol, a byproduct in the sugar industry present in many African countries has been successfully used to blend oil, thus reducing import costs.