Global Lead Network: Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out in Africa

Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out in Africa

Africa is more severely affected by lead poisoning and pollution than any other region of the world. Virtually all countries on the continent still use leaded gasoline in opposition to global trends – and the lead content of that gasoline is the highest in the world. Distinct features of the African environment exacerbate the problem of lead poisoning and impart the unique pathological features of the disease in the African context. The pervasive dust formation characteristic of much of the African landscape facilitates the dispersion of ambient concentrations of lead and thereby increases the likelihood of exposure. These factors combine to make Africa a priority region for phase-out.

Since the refinery sector is unlikely to make a major investment in upgrades and fuel formulation more than once in a generation, it is necessary to simultaneously address other fuel issues that interfere with the development of urban clean air policies in Africa. Moreover, it is critical that replacement fuels for leaded gasoline do not contain additives, such as MMT and benzene, which continue to prohibit the use of pollution control devices or pose health risks.

In cooperation with the World Bank and AFRICACLEAN (an NGO based in Senegal), the Alliance will be commencing a project to build on the successful World Bank Regional Conference on the Phase-Out of Leaded Gasoline in Sub-Saharan Africa held in Dakar, Senegal from June 26 – 28, 2001. This project will support implementation of the Declaration of Dakar, which calls for a complete phase-out of lead additives on the entire continent by 2005. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a model for promoting integrated clean fuel policies in Africa that simultaneously improve public health, promote sustainable development, and reduce conventional air pollution and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, activities will include: bringing together and working in partnership with all stakeholders – NGOs, governments, and industry – representing all disciplines that need to be involved in phase-out and prevention, including environment, energy, health, finance, children’s welfare, and so forth; providing policy assistance in developing national action plans for phase-out that contribute to broader clean air goals through transfer of knowledge on phase-out and clean fuels and their relationship to climate change and the development and exchange of best practices; catalyzing and building the capacity of African NGOs and NGO networks to work on phase-out and related clean fuels issues; and working with African NGOs to conduct public awareness campaigns to alert the public to the dangers of lead and the need for national plans for phase-out and clean fuels.

As its specific objective, the project will catalyze and support the development and implementation of national action plans for phase-out in specific gasoline-importing countries. By concentrating on importing countries, the project will reap maximum and rapid benefits for the amount of effort and funds invested and provide early models of successful phase-out for other Sub-Saharan African countries. Furthermore, because these countries primarily rely on countries outside and inside the region for their imports, this strategy will put additional pressure on gasoline-producing countries in Africa to phase out leaded gasoline in order to maintain export markets. Four countries have been initially singled out for the project – Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, and Tanzania. As currently planned, the first country to be addressed by this project will be Mauritania. Work is scheduled to commence in November 2002. If you are interested in participating in the Africa project, especially if you are an African NGO, please contact the Alliance.

It is important to note that, while Africa is a priority region, the Africa project is just one facet of the Global Lead Network’s on-going campaign to accelerate worldwide leaded gasoline phase-out. To learn more about the campaign, as well as the phase-out issue, see the links under “General Resources on Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out and Clean Fuels” below.

Resources Specifc to Africa
The documents and other resources listed below provide background, policy, and technical information for implementing phase-out and clean fuels strategies in Africa.
» Regional Conference on the Phase-Out of Leaded Gasoline in Sub-Saharan Africa

» Alliance’s event summary Dakar Declaration

» Presentations Delivered at the Dakar Conference

» World Bank – Clean Air Initiative in Sub-Saharan African Cities (CAI-Africa)

» Toxic Metal Pollution in Africa – 1992 article by Dr. Jerome Nriagu published in The Science of the Total Environment

General Resources on Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out and Clean Fuels
The documents and links below provide policy and advocacy information on phase-out, as well as the GLN’s International Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out Campaign.

» Countries that have phased out leaded gasoline

» Lead Commitments in Key International Agreements

» Protecting Climate by Improving Fuel Quality: The Case for Total Elimination of Lead and Reductions in Sulfur: COP-6 Background Paper & Policy Statement

» Transition to Clean Fuels: Environment and Health Benefits – CSD-9 Background Paper and Policy Statement

» Worldwide Phase-Out of Leaded Gasoline: An International Environmental Health Priority

» The Secret History of Lead, published by The Nation magazine details blatant corporate malfeasance and U.S. government complicity in the promotion and global use of lead as an octane booster.

» Myths and Realities of Phasing Out Leaded Gasoline

» Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out is a research program at Princeton University. The program focuses on technical assessments of phase-out policy and case studies of countries where leaded gasoline use is still high.

» The World Bank-Pollution Management is the Bank’s policy framework for the phase-out of leaded gasoline through different exposure sources, sectors, and regions. In a 1996 press release, Eliminating Leaded Gas Reduces Health Risks, the Bank calls for the total phase-out of leaded gasoline and cites lead poisoning as the most serious environmental health problem.

» The Elimination of Lead in Gasoline, by Valerie Thomas, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University.

» The Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association is a non-profit organization that provides technical information on emissions control technologies and related environmental issues to state, national, and international policy makers. MECA’s 1998, “The Case for Banning Lead in Gasoline,” highlights the different policy options for phase-out and addresses concerns about fuel additives used to replace tetraethyl lead. Executive summaries of the paper are available in French and Russian. Other related MECA publications include fact sheets on auto emissions, catalytic converters, and inspection and maintenance programs. You can access these documents on the site’s Publication’s Page.