Why Africa Must Not be Dumping Ground in Green Auto Race
By Yemi Olakitan
Used vehicles that do not meet emission standards contribute to air pollution and climate change, which have serious consequences for human health and biodiversity.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution causes about seven million premature deaths every year. Climate change also increases the risks of droughts, floods, heat waves, and diseases.
Importing used vehicles that are inefficient and unreliable can increase the costs of maintenance, fuel, and transportation for African consumers and businesses.
This can reduce purchasing power and productivity, and limit access to markets and opportunities. Moreover, relying on imported vehicles can undermine the development of a local automotive industry, which could create jobs and innovation.
Used vehicles that are unsafe and prone to accidents can endanger the lives and well-being of African drivers and passengers.
According to the World Health Organization, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of road traffic deaths in the world, with 26.6 deaths per 100,000 accidents. Road accidents also impose a heavy burden on the health care system and society.
Africa should not accept the export of used vehicles that are of poor quality and harmful to the environment and the people. Instead, Africa should adopt and enforce minimum quality standards for imported vehicles, as well as promote cleaner and safer modes of transportation, such as electric vehicles, public transit, and non-motorized mobility. This would benefit Africa’s development and sustainability in the long term.
However, it remains to be seen whether this could be achieved anytime soon.
As part of measures to battle global warming, developed countries are moving from petrol and diesel vehicles. France, the U.K., the U.S., India, Norway and others already restricted the new sales of petrol and diesel cars, while Chile recently turned to green vehicles for mass transportation.
Countries across the world; especially developed nations are also making efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change. The adoption of green vehicles is one of the remarkable solutions to an eco-friendly world. But as laudable as the development could be, the technology poses dire challenges in Africa.
A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) says the world is on the verge of an electrifying change that would have a cascading effect on the entire global energy industry. It adds that within as few as eight years, electric cars in Europe and North America would be cheaper to buy and run than traditional vehicles, which are powered by internal combustion engines.
Increasing the use of electric vehicles (EVs) has been suggested as a possible method to decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to mitigate the causes of climate change.
But little has been said on the end-of-life of products that are being phased out in developed communities. Where are the products going to end up?
Most analysts have expressed concern that the continent of Africa, with the current burden of pollution, could be turned into a dumping ground for petrol and diesel engines that are now being phased out.
With about half a million used cars imported to Nigeria alone yearly, Africa has become the continent, where condemned vehicles go to die. Most of the vehicles are from the US, Japan, and France and brands such as Toyota are now commonplace on the countries’ roads.
By implication, as the developed communities become cleaner, the surge in climate change challenges and health problems becomes more urgent in Africa.
While vehicle emissions, considered a major source of urban air pollution are dropping across the world, Africa must be wary of becoming the world dumping ground.
Indeed, according to new research, air pollution is responsible for most of the premature deaths on the continent.
Reportedly, in 2015, lower respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis replaced AIDS as the leading cause of death in Africa, being responsible for cutting short roughly one million African lives.
Energy analysts at the Grantham Institute of Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker think tank corroborated the claim and in a way warned countries like Nigeria of the over-dependence on this technology.
While the global community must create an end-of-life policy that discourages the dumping of old technologies in Africa, the continent of Africa is urgently in need of necessary legislation and encouragement to have green vehicles across its cities.
Director, of Nissan Nigeria Regional Project, Sorin Profir, who had cited the ongoing green vehicles revolution in South Africa, said: “If you want green vehicles, first you must get rid of used cars and create the legislation that will encourage people to buy green vehicles.
A director at Lagos-based Carbon Exchange Trade, Innocent Azih, said that an estimated 11.5 million vehicles, which currently ply roads in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), put the country’s environment and the health of the populace at risk.
Azih raised concern over the influx of second-hand vehicles, noting that unless the government acts fast, the country would be a trash bin for hazardous technology.
On what could be done to avert the situation, Azih said: “We need a holistic instrument in the form of regulation that enables investors and the private sector to drive a green revolution and enforce carbon emission reduction.”
It is important for most African countries, which had pledged at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, to support a green revolution by taking climate action for sustainable development to avert the looming dangers in the automotive sector.
Similarly, there is a need for regional or global agreements to govern the flow of used vehicles to tame the imminent dangers in the development.
Green vehicles also known as eco-friendly vehicles or environmentally-friendly vehicles are less harmful to the environment than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.
Green vehicles are cars that use less pollutant emissions and are more environmentally friendly. According to the web search results, some companies are manufacturing or promoting green vehicles in Nigeria, such as:
In Nigeria, the Stallion Group is the country’s first vehicle manufacturing company, which produced the Hyundai Kona the first locally assembled electric vehicle in Nigeria.
Carbon Exchange Trade, an organisation that plans to push for green vehicles such as tricycles, cars and other public transport fleets that are green is also at the forefront of advocating for green vehicles in Nigeria so that Nigeria will seize to be a dumping ground.
BMW and Nissan are two automakers that have partnered with the South African government and Uber to launch electric and hybrid cars and expand the national charging network.
These companies are trying to follow the global trend of shifting to renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions. However, experts say that Nigeria needs more supportive policies and legislation to encourage the adoption of green vehicles, and so is the rest of Africa.