Stakeholders from the ministries of energy, environment, transport, health, roads, and the national refinery met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 2 October 2018 to develop a national low sulphur road map. The road map targets refinery modernization to produce diesel fuels at sulphur levels of 50 parts per million or lower. The Côte d’Ivoire refinery Société ivoirienne de raffinage (SIR) is already producing petrol at 10 parts per million sulphur content. However, sulphur levels in diesel fuel range between 1900 – 2000 parts per million. An estimated US$300 million investment is required to upgrade the refinery to produce low sulphur fuels. Côte d’Ivoire plays an important role in the fuel supply chain in the sub-region. The introduction of cleaner fuels would therefore impact Côte d’Ivoire as well as neighboring countries.
Speaking of the government’s commitment to follow through the implementation of the road map to be developed at the meeting, Fançois Kouablan, Chef de Cabinet on behalf of the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, emphasized the importance of low sulphur fuels to reduce vehicle emissions. In opening the workshop, he noted that the West Africa region had already committed to introduce low sulphur fuels by 2020. He also informed the meeting that in the middle of 2018, Côte d’Ivoire had moved to restrict vehicle import age for all categories of vehicles. Now, only passenger vehicles less than five years old can be imported into the country. He also spoke of the need for regional harmonization of fuel and vehicle standards within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Bernard Koffi of the Economic Community of West African States Commission informed participants of the ongoing process to harmonize fuel and vehicle emission standards in the subregion. He highlighted the findings from the Public Eye Report that showed how dirty fuels are imported into the region. Jane Akumu of UN Environment thanked the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development for taking the lead in promoting cleaner fuels and vehicles efforts in Côte d’Ivoire and in the wider Economic Community of West African States subregion. She informed participants of recent studies that have estimated the economic loss to Africa from ambient air pollution, for which transport played a key role, at over US$200 billion. Akumu urged Côte d’Ivoire to take advantage of ongoing global vehicle technology advancement, including the shift to electric mobility.
The meeting took note of the previously agreed low sulphur fuels targets recommending a move to low sulphur fuels by 2020. It was however noted that this target would not be possible in Côte d’Ivoire as refinery upgrading is estimated to take five years. A new date of 2025 was thus proposed alongside concrete steps to enable the shift. Moving forward, the proposed road map will be presented to government decision makers for endorsement and implementation.