A report by campaign group, Public Eye, in September criticized Swiss firms of selling toxin laden diesel, or dirty fuel, that just would not be allowed in Europe, to African countries.
The contention was that Africa keeps getting dirty fuel, rejected by other nations, when they trade with these Swiss firms. The Swiss firms in question had been quick to come to their own defense insisting that they only operated based on the regulatory standards of the African countries.
These regulatory standards were very lax for a number of reasons that included a misplaced fear that cleaner fuel would be more expensive, African countries produce such low-standard fuel in their own refineries due to an inability to reduce sulphur levels and so keep the regulatory standard at a level their own refineries can operate at.
Now, the UN Environment Programme has announced that five countries in West Africa have decided to stop importing dirty fuel from Europe. According to the announcement, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast have agreed on the ban.
Alongside the announcement of the ban, the agency added that the move will help more than 250 million people breath safer and cleaner air. In a statement addressing the issue, Nigeria’s Environment Minister Amina Mohamed is quoted as saying:
“For 20 years Nigeria has not been able to address the vehicle pollution crisis due to the poor fuels we have been importing. Today we are taking a huge leap forward – limiting sulfur in fuels from 3000 parts per million to 50 parts per million, this will result in major air quality benefits in our cities and will allow us to set modern vehicle standards.”
UN Environment head Erik Solheim also said pertaining the issue:
“West Africa is sending a strong message that it is no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe. Their decision to set strict new standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emission standards shows they are placing the health of their people first.”
“Their move is an example for countries around the world to follow. Air pollution is killing millions of people every year and we need to ensure that all countries urgently introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles to help reduce the shocking statistics.”
It is a step in the right direction. Air pollution is becoming a big problem in the world and insisting on higher standards for imported fuel in Africa will ensure that governments are not complicit in complicating the lives of their citizens and in any other way dirty fuel has been shown to be a disadvantage.