Old cars from rich countries destroy Africa


According to the UN report, 14 million old low-quality vehicles were exported from Europe, Japan and China between 2015 and 2018. Four fifths of these vehicles were shipped to poor countries and more than half were sold in Africa.

Experts say 80% of vehicles do not meet the minimum safety and environmental standards in exporting countries. Most of these vehicles are said to have their valuable parts removed prior to sale.


In the report prepared by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), it is emphasized that both exporters and importers should be subject to stricter rules in order to prevent the sale of these vehicles.

Vehicle ownership has exploded worldwide and an estimated 1.4 billion vehicles are on the road. This number is projected to reach two billion by 2040. Much of this growth is seen in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.


In their three-year analysis, the researchers found that vehicle import rules in most of the 146 countries studied were “weak” or “very weak”. In another study by the Dutch Environment and Transport Authority, it was pointed out that many vehicles sent to Africa from Dutch ports are old and worsen the air pollution on the continent.

Rob de Jong of UNEP, one of the authors of the report, says that 80% of the 14 million vehicles exported are not ready to go and do not meet the emission standards denominated Euro 4. The Euro 4 standard has entered into force in Europe in January 2005.

“This means that these vehicles produce 90% more emissions because they don’t meet the minimum standards,” says De Jong.

According to the report’s authors, these vehicles are dangerous and dirty. Experts say these imported vehicles are responsible for an increase in accidents in many poor countries in Africa and Asia. These vehicles also emit small particles and nitrogen oxide, which is a major source of air pollution in many cities.

UNEP’s Jane Akumu said: “The average age of diesel vehicles imported into Uganda in 2017 was over 20 years. The same goes for Zimbabwe. In fact, there are no age restrictions for vehicles imported into around 30 African countries. So any vehicle of any age can be imported, “he says.


In addition to vehicles that do not meet road safety and environmental standards, important materials found in many vehicles are purchased.

“They are dismantling the catalytic converters because the platinum in them costs $ 500. Then they weld a piece of steel pipe again. They illegally take out the airbags, because in Europe they cost money. They are dismantling the ABS braking systems because they are valuable and sold on the black market ”.

More than 54 percent of the vehicles mentioned in the report are from Europe. Many of them are sent from Dutch ports. The Dutch authorities are concerned about this trade and want regulation across Europe.

Dutch Environment Minister Stientje van Veldhoven said the Netherlands cannot tackle this problem alone, stating: “A coordinated European approach and close cooperation between European and African governments are needed.” He says.

The realization of the risks posed by these instruments has led some countries to tighten their rules. Morocco does not allow the importation of vehicles over the age of five. Kenya has also imposed an 8-year limit on imported vehicles.

At the regional level, the 15-member Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) will introduce clean fuel and vehicle standards that will come into effect from January 2021.

But for the real solution to the problem, action must be taken on both sides of the supply chain.

“On the one hand, it is unethical for these developed countries to export vehicles that they deem unworthy of their way. On the other hand, why are importing countries waiting so long to introduce minimum standards. So I think that the responsibility is not only for the exporting countries, it is a common responsibility ”. (Turkish BBC)

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