Developing a roadmap for the adoption of clean fuel and vehicle standards in Southern and Western Africa

Road transportation is one of the leading sources of outdoor air pollution in Southern and Western Africa, particularly in cities, where emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles, minibuses, buses, and two-and three-wheelers continue to negatively affect public health, making motor vehicles a central area for rapid policy response.

This study focuses on efforts in Southern and Western Africa by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles and Engines Initiative to reduce vehicles’ contribution to outdoor air pollution, and the health and climate impacts of vehicles’ emissions. The goal of this report is to provide a roadmap to support the implementation of comprehensive clean fuel and vehicle policies in Southern and Western Africa, paving the way for those countries to:

  • Identify current institutional, economic, and policy barriers that have limited countries’ progress. With current regional commitments across the two regions, this report identifies factors that will likely impact the implementation of the regional agreements and proposes ways to address these obstacles.
  • Take advantage of the political momentum to implement short-term actions and refine some of the policies to respond to long-term clean transportation goals, including clean air, fuel economy, compliance, and enforcement.
  • Assess the social costs and the health and climate co-benefits associated with a regional transition to clean fuels and vehicles.

In summary, this study finds that:

  • The governments’ goal of 2020 for achieving 50-ppm fuels is achievable for most countries in both regions, with all countries reaching this milestone by 2025. Most countries in the region should be able to reach 10-ppm sulfur fuels by 2030.
  • In addition to limiting diesel sulfur levels, all countries in Southern and Western Africa should harmonize with the AFRI-4 specifications in full, including limits on gasoline sulfur content, benzene, and aromatics.
  • The African Refinery Association has an opportunity to provide a timeline for AFRI-6 standards that aim to achieve 10-ppm diesel sulfur content, to align with the goal of the Global Sulfur Strategy and enable countries to meet Euro 5/V and 6/VI vehicle emissions standards.
  • Two factors will likely impact the implementation of regional commitments: common fuel quality specifications and harmonized implementation timelines for importing and refining countries. The regional bodies, the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States, are the best-suited venues for a harmonized transition, but also for discussions about countries facing obstacles—whether financial, institutional, or economic—to ensure that no country is left behind.
  • In countries where multiple fuel grades will be sold, there should be establishment of labeling of low- and ultra-low-sulfur grades to inform consumers.
  • All countries should limit vehicle imports to Euro 4/IV when AFRI-4 fuels become available, and to Euro 6/VI when AFRI-6 10-ppm fuels become available. For all vehicles in the fleet (older and newer), strong inspection and maintenance programs are needed.
  • Looking forward, and for policymakers to benefit from data-driven policy guidance, all countries should collect and report data on imported vehicles, including emission and fuel economy certification levels and data on costs and origin of both imported and refined fuels.
  • The implementation of clean fuel and vehicle policies goes hand in hand with stronger compliance and enforcement; regulators should conduct regular fuel quality testing of imported fuels at the point of entry and fuels sold at retail stations, enforce minimum financial penalties for noncompliance with fuel specifications at retail services, and make fuel-quality testing and enforcement data (i.e., penalties collected) publicly available.
  • Decision makers should take cost-effectiveness into consideration, in addition to energy security, when determining whether to upgrade refineries or switch to imports.