Achieving Sustainable Transport in Africa

Africa must achieve sustainable transport in its effort to contribute to global carbon emission reduction and the goal of limiting global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius, while urging efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degreesCelsius.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and other allied institutions have committed to providing 175billion USD in finance to enhancethe transport sectorin Africa to be sustainable. Currently, the continent is not realizing any good/mega breakthroughs when it comes to sustainable transport and based on which The African Development Bank made a 175 billion USD commitment last year at New York City during a UN Climate Summit which was also attended by 125 heads of state.

The transport sector accounts for over 90% of primary oil demand and is responsible for 23% of energy-related CO2 emissions. Africa has comparably low CO2 emissions from transport: 215kg of CO2/per capita in 2008, which is 25 times lower than the world average. However this figure is expected to increase with the rise in Africa’s total oil demand.

The new joint statement by the multilateral development banks commits US$175bn in financing over 10 years for sustainable transport. The AfDB invested more than US$1.7bn in 2013 in the sector with the intention of increasing the focus on developing sound urban transport systems, greater modal shifts from motorised transport and greener sources of energy in the years to come.In mid2013, Imperial Cargo solutions introduced a Carbon Footprint Reduction Initiative which reduced their water consumption during operations by 64% while saving about 10,000 USD in electricity. Fiat Group Automobiles and Chrysler South Africa also became a green transport sector with the implementation of a recycling programme.

Following 2010 to 2016, there have been rising news in the interest of the few known commercial taxi companies to divert from solely depending on Petrol or Diesel but also including a more eco-friendly fuel – Liquefied Petroleum Gas – a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in vehicles. It burns more cleanly than petrol.

A good example is the realization of Green Cab Company in South Africa.

In 2012, a group of forward-thinking entrepreneurs established South Africa’s first carbon-neutral transport service.The Green Cab is the idea of a group of women who decided to pool their expertise to help lower vehicle emissions and make transport services more sustainable.The Cape Town-based initiative has attracted much attention from businesses looking to green their operations, eco-conscious individuals and the local tourism sector.“Looking after the environment is something everyone needs to do. We are destroying our planet and we all have a responsibility to do something. We owe it to future generations,” says Lynn Maggott, Green Cab Managing Director.The company’s fleet has been modified to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and a biodiesel blend of diesel used cooking oil. A 20/80 ratio of biodiesel to diesel is used.Biodiesel is a vegetable oil or animal fat-based diesel fuel. Vehicles running on biodiesel can achieve carbon dioxide savings of between 15% and 90%, compared to standard diesel vehicles.According to the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LPG used in taxi, limousine or shuttle services can achieve carbon dioxide savings of up to 12%, compared to normal petrol-dependent vehicles.

Managing Director of The Green Cab explains that LPG’s percentage reduction in harmful emissions, as compared to petrol, is 75% less for carbon monoxide; 85% less for hydrocarbon; 40% less for oxide and nitrogen and about 10% less for carbon dioxide.Biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions between 30% and 50%, depending on the percentage of used cooking oil in the blend.

Two years after this good green transport was established, the Managing Director of Green Cab was given a spotlight and named among top women in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry. This proud accolade is awarded to women who inspire, innovate and ignite the MICE sector of business.

Now, when you visit Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and other African countries, there is a wide blend of commercial vehicles running on LPG. Although Petrol and Diesel still dominate the vehicle fuel sector, the prospect of biodiesel and LPG taking over or halving vehicle fuel is promising as academia and researchers are continuously testing the efficient production of biodiesel using some plant species such as the Jatrophacurcus.

In the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, during the 2014 Recycle Up – Ghana event by Technology without Borders, a senior researcher in the university mentioned to me how he is researching into turning plastic waste into fuel through anaerobic combustion. In the 2016 edition of the Recycle Up – Ghana event, young senior high school students had been trained to convert plastic to fuel.

In other parts of the globe where people can afford electric and driverless cars, it is a good outlook for carbon reduction. In Africa, where the average working adult cannot even afford a four wheel drive, it is very important that consumers resort to LPG and bio-fuel. Sustainable transport will be achieved in Africa too.




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