African experts on Thursday emphasized the crucial need to harmonize regional and continental fuel specifications to bring about lasting impact on Africa’s socioeconomic development.
This came during a two-day workshop that concluded on Thursday at the headquarters the African Union (AU) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa under the theme “Benefits of Adopting AFRI Fuel Specifications Roadmap,” which envisaged to ensure superior fuel quality and significant emissions reduction for achieving clean air in Africa.
The two-day continental high-level meeting, which was organized by the 55-member pan African bloc in collaboration with the African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARA), mainly stressed that “harmonized regional and continental fuel specifications crucial to make a positive and lasting impact on economies, air quality, heath and climate.”
Participants attending the workshop also analyzed the draft study on the socio-economic benefits of harmonized specifications to develop a final report to be presented to the AU Commission for adoption.
The AU Commission Director of Infrastructure and Energy Cheikh Bedda also highlighted the significance of a continental approach to developing the “right fuel specifications and vehicle standards with an ambitious, yet achievable roadmap.”
“In the context of regional and continental integration, a common approach is ideal as this enables the continent to move together in the same direction,” the AU Commission Director stressed.
“It is even more critical in the new dispensation of operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area,” Bedda added.
Experts and policymakers attending the high-level gathering also stressed that access to larger regional markets would increase intra-African trade, while shared fuel specifications would discourage illegal activity such as the smuggling and tampering of product quality.
The draft study, which was discussed during the meeting ahead of its endorsement by the AU Commission, also emphasized that harmonized fuel specifications “will boost Intra-African trade and is, therefore, the key to sustainable economic development throughout the continent.”
“As Africa moves towards cleaner air, the reduction of harmful particles such as particulate matter (PM2.5) emitted from substandard vehicles reduces the concentration of PM2.5 in the atmosphere,” it stated.
PM2.5 is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in the air are high, in which the continental study noted that PM2.5 “is one of the factors in causing premature deaths, thereby linking its reduction to an increase in the avoidance of the deaths.”
Noting an immediate need to develop policies regulating vehicle exhaust emissions and fuel specifications across the continent, the study also stressed the need “to consider and continue to address issues regarding the cost and viability of African refiners to secure the support of the member states.”
The AFRI Fuel Specifications Roadmap is expected to be presented to the African Union Commission in 2020, and expected to be adopted in 2021, it was noted. Enditem