The European Union Commission, through its representative Pablo Villafuerte, has expressed its commitment to supporting Africa’s transition to safer cars. Villafuerte emphasized the responsibility of ensuring that used cars exported from the EU adhere to environmental standards and are safe for human health. The EU has taken concrete steps in this direction by adopting legislation on end-of-life vehicles and prohibiting the export of cars that do not meet environmental standards.
During a panel discussion titled “Used and grey vehicle imports – the reality, the journey, and the opportunity in a just transition” at the African Automotive Conference held at the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023), Villafuerte stressed the importance of implementing car fitness certificates by 2035. This implies that every car exported from Europe must undergo certification to confirm its roadworthiness, with the certificate becoming an integral part of the accompanying documents.
The IATF2023, now in its third edition, serves as a platform for businesses to access an integrated African market with over 1.3 billion people and a GDP exceeding $3.5 trillion under the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Luqman Mamudu from TransTech Consulting highlighted the challenges faced by Ghana in its car program, specifically the delicate balance needed between consumer preferences and manufacturers’ requirements. Mamudu pointed out that used cars are highly competitive due to consumer demand for their lower prices. However, he acknowledged that these vehicles often face safety and quality challenges. Addressing these challenges would require substantial resources for monitoring, and he cautioned against reducing used car imports, as this could have adverse effects on the economy.
Michael Okyere, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in Ghana, shared that the country imports 100,000 cars annually, with 90 percent being used cars aged six months and above. He outlined Ghana’s robust mechanisms to address car-related risks, including strict policies such as biannual inspections of cars and drivers to ensure their eligibility for road use. Okyere also mentioned that many cars arrive in Ghana from the parallel market without adhering to regulations and monitoring but are still subjected to inspections. He highlighted the imposition of fines on cars over 10 years old, aiming to encourage local car assembly or the importation of new cars.
Kojo Annobil from the Center for Automotive Development in Ghana emphasized the challenges in replacing used cars with new ones due to the high costs involved. He suggested that creating a market for exchanging cars could be a solution, expanding the automotive market in the process.
Reuben Gisore, representing the African Organization for Standardization, stressed the need for standards for used cars, emphasizing that 80 percent of these cars should be in good condition. He highlighted the importance of standards for evaluating used cars, considering factors such as safety and environmental impact. Gisore noted that mobility and product transportation are crucial, and the absence of cars to transport products poses a significant challenge. He mentioned the initiation of standards in 2019 with the support of Afreximbank, focusing on assessing expected characteristics, environmental impact, and types of fuels used in cars.