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Being the first sub region in Africa to adopt low Sulphur fuels, the East Africa sub region is set to institute vehicle emissions standards as a measure towards cleaning up the transport sector in line with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Global Sulphur strategy. The strategy targets to have a global transition to low sulfur on-road diesel and associated vehicle emissions standards by 2030. While fuel sulfur reduction has delivered significant health and air quality benefits in the subregion, the full benefits of cleaner fuels will only be realized when low-sulfur fuel are combined with appropriate vehicle emissions standards.

Towards this, standards technical committee members from the five East African countries (Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) met in Nairobi on 14-15 November 2019 to discuss the details of the proposed vehicle emissions standards for the East Africa region. Ms. Stella Apolot of the East Africa Community Secretariat, Jane Akumu from UNEP and Gerphas Opondo of the Environment Compliance Institute guided the deliberations on the standards. Thirty participants attended the meeting where it emerged that both Kenya and Rwanda had already gazzetted vehicle emission standards. Rwanda was due to implement the standards as part of an intentional strategy of assisting the country get back to the WHO recommended levels of air quality. 

Participants agreed to among other things to distinguish the emission limits for vehicles under three major categories; limits for new vehicles, limits for imported used vehicles and limits for in-use vehicles. There was consensus that limits for new vehicles would be set to attain EURO 4/IV compliance encouraging vehicles manufactures in the sub-region to comply with the global criteria on safety and emissions. Used vehicle imports were required to have at least complied to EURO4/IV technology at the time of manufacture. Considering that cleaner fuels were introduced in 2015, it was also agreed that emission limits for in use vehicles will be informed by available inspection data in the sub region to avoid a large percentage of in use vehicles failing the emission tests.

Participants also noted that the region needs to maximize the benefits of the introduction of the vehicle through improved measures for compliance and enforcement of adopted standards. They highlighted the need to not only establish adequate number of vehicle inspection and testing centers by EAC Partner States, but also ensure that such centers are equipped with technologies that are aligned with the current global trends.

Moving forward the partner states will provide inputs to the standards ahead of submission to the EAC Secretariat in the first half of 2020 for consideration and adoption. If the standards are adopted, the East Africa Community is set to be the first sub region in Africa to harmonize both fuels and vehicle emission standards.