UNITED NATIONS COMPOUND, NAIROBI, Kenya, Tuesday, 11 June 2019 – Electric vehicle technology and an unequivocal plan to combat grey imports are critical in the battle to fight vehicles emissions in Africa, says Nissan Group of Africa’s director of sales and operations Jim Dando.
Speaking on the side lines of the two-day East African Community workshop on the harmonisation of vehicle emission standards, hosted by the United Nations, at its Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters, Dando said Africa urgently needed a policy in place for the welfare of its people.
“Africa has one of the lowest motorisation rates in the world, but also one of the fastest growing vehicle populations – the problem is that mobility solutions are being built on grey or parallel imports, many of which are not just unsuitable for African conditions, they are incredibly dangerous because of their advanced age.”
The problem, he said, was not limited to the dumping of cheap end of life vehicles in Africa but also to late previously owned models because the sellers would have to modify them for African conditions – which catastrophic effects for the environment.
“You can see what looks to be a perfect looking modern vehicle on a showroom floor, but it’s when you look under the vehicle that you see the damage; catalytic converters removed to allow the vehicle to be able to operate on the available fuel quality locally, which often makes the now locally tropicalised vehicle an even worse polluter than previous models might have been a decade before.”
The only answer, he said, was for an unequivocal statement by African governments to control the importation of second hand vehicles through an outright ban of these vehicles over four years old and imposing punitive import duties on younger second hand vehicles.
“No manufacturer will want to invest in creating an automotive assembly plant in country without this kind of protection and guarantee,” he said, “ but where there are these kind of policies in place, we can start building affordable cars locally, creating jobs and helping industrialise Africa to meet its full potential – and when we do that, we can start to see the same trajectory that the automotive industry has seen in places like Thailand, which now has the 12th largest automotive industry in the world, or China.”
Policies were critical too for the introduction of electric vehicles, he said. Nissan is the global leader in the automotive electrification and its LEAF is the world’s best-selling electric car and already being driven increasingly in South Africa and Mauritius.
“Our experience has shown us that the successful introduction of electric cars takes Government support to develop infrastructure and to provide incentives to customers. We will be talking to both the government and to the United Nations to explore ways of formally introducing the LEAF both to Kenya and assisting the UN with its mandate.”