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How Old Vehicles Siphon Revenue Out of Africa, Destroy Environment

Uganda and other African countries need policies to support fuel economy or risk losing substantial amounts of revenue in oil and gas imports.

One such policies would include taxes on vehicles with high carbon emissions and incentives to promote the uptake of electric vehicles as well as those with clean internal combustion systems says a UN Environment expert, Jane Akumu.

Akumu, Africa cleaner mobility programs focal person at United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was one of the speakers at the just concluded Southern and Eastern Africa sub-regions meeting on the African Union climate change strategy in Nairobi.

She said with the predicted 10% vehicle growth rate in the region, there is need for fuel economy policies to promote reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions.  

“A country like South Africa is actually at par with the global average because they have a CO2 tax,” she explained said at meeting that was discussing a continental Climate Change Strategy to guide support to African Union member states to meet the 2015 Paris Accord on Climate Change.  “If you are buying a car, the taxation also depends on the CO2 emissions of that car.”

She said emissions from the transport sector account for the bulk of pollutants negatively affecting the continent. One way on how to go about this if for countries to put in place incentives that encourage importation of newer vehicles including electric ones.

Studies have found that over 50% of oil use around the world is for transport and nearly all the recent and future expected growth in that use comes from increased transport activity whilst the global transport sector contributes about 25% of the energy related global GHG emissions.

According to Akumu, a good vehicle should ordinarily use less than four liters for a 100-killometer journey but many in African countries consume far more than that.More than 30 countries in Africa don’t have regulations limiting aged vehicles.

In 2015, economists and engineers from Makerere University analyzed the different forms of transport in Uganda and found that a bus carrying 80 passengers for a distance of 21km a day for one year would use fuel worth UGX 3.3 million and pollute 3.2 tons of carbon dioxide.

The researchers in a baseline survey of Uganda’s national automotive fuel economy said to carry the same number of passengers for the same distance would require 6 commuter taxis of capacity 14 passengers which would require 5 times more fuel and pollute 5 times more than the bus.

And for the motorcycles or boda boda, the researchers who included Dr. John Mutenyo from the school of economics found that 80 motor cycles would be required and consume 13 times more than the bus in one year and pollute 6 times more.

They found that harmonic average fuel efficiency had declined from 12.52 L/100km in 2005 to 13.73 L/100Km in 2014.

The survey attributed the looming crisis to the increase in the average age of vehicles imported into the country.

Average carbon dioxide emission has also worsened from 465 g/km in 2005 to 503g/km in 2014.

The government in 2018 banned the the importation of used vehicles manufactured 15 years earlier with the enactment of Traffic and Road Safety  2018 Act.


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