East African Clean Diesel Now a Reality

by Kristine Smukste - 10 March, 2015
Low sulfur diesel fuel and the life-saving filter to improve people's lives

Following a regional promise to transition to low sulfur diesel fuel for cars, trucks and buses Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have formally adopted national standards for cleaner fuels as of 1 January 2015. Urban buses around the world will account for 25 percent of black carbon emissions from all passenger and commercial goods transport vehicles in 2015, and are on average responsible for up to 80 percent of harmful fine particle (PM2.5) emissions in cities. Over 6.8 million urbanites in East Africa will benefit from low sulfur diesel fuel and the life-saving filter and catalyst technologies cleaner fuel enables.

The Heavy-Duty Diesel Initiative has, since 2013, supported the East Africa Community (EAC) in its landmark introduction of low sulfur fuels (maximum sulfur content of 50 ppm in diesel). A June 2013 meeting of East African Ministers from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda adopted a regional harmonized low sulfur fuel standard, paving the way for the use of cleaner diesel technology on roads – including trucks and buses. The CCAC’s support provided the last push following years of foundation work by the Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles and the European Union.


Throughout 2014 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a co-lead in the Heavy-Duty Diesel Initiative, worked with East African governments and industry to make the EAC decision a reality. This included national meetings between fuel authorities and officials in each country, discussions with key decision-makers in each country and media campaigns to alert consumers and businesses of the transition.

The Heavy-Duty Diesel Initiative will now follow up the availability of cleaner fuels in these African countries with targeted support to cities like Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi for cleaner bus technology. UNEP is now expanding its efforts, with support from the CCAC, to ensuring clean fuels in West and Southern Africa and support for the use of clean bus technologies in selected cities worldwide.