NAIROBI, March 15 (Xinhua) — A senior UN official on Wednesday called on
African governments to put policies and finances in place to start adopting
electric vehicles to cut air pollution.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment, told a conference
in Nairobi that the rate of rapid urbanization on the continent urgently
calls for new ideas and technologies. “The rate of urbanization requires
the introduction of electric vehicles to help reduce air pollution,”
Solheim said while opening Africa Clean Mobility Week Conference. He said
Africa’s biggest challenge in the next decade is likely to be urbanization
due to the increasing population that calls for additional accommodation
and transport. “If you get urbanization right, it leads to positive
development but it is unfortunate if you get it wrong,” he added.
Solheim said the countries need to start re-planning their cities by
creating walking paths and cycling space along the major roads to help
reduce vehicle use and air pollution. “Your governments must begin
discussions with China and other countries that are leading in developing
electric mode of transport globally,” the official told officials who are
attending the conference. He hailed China for leading in developing
electric mobility and also adopting them in streamlining their transport
system. According to Solheim, by linking 35 cities with metro services,
China has set an example that transitional and developing countries should
follow. “It has happened in India, China and Vietnam. It can also happen
in African countries,” the UN official noted. He said that with the
increasing different car makers globally, Africa need to acquire electric
trams, cars and buses to reduce its air pollution and road congestions,
adding that constructions of major highways may not lead to reduction of
vehicles on the roads.
Solheim wondered why Africa continues to import used and old vehicles while
electric vehicles are known to be cheaper than gasoline powered cars. He
warned that action need to start immediately to help reduce the rate of
deaths caused by road accidents and air pollution that he said is far above
deaths caused by known diseases lately. “A shift to non-fossil fuel, zero
and low emission vehicles will mean massive benefits for both air quality
and climate,” he added. Rob de Jong, head of the Air Quality and Mobility
Unit at the UN Environment, also called on African governments to start
adopting an alternative roadmap to adopt electric mobility. He called on
countries to start using low-sulphur fuels, stop importing old vehicles and
import zero and low emission mobility. “Consider introducing mass
transport and develop footpaths to decongest and also reduce air pollution.
Ethiopia and Tanzania has introduced electric transport in their
countries,” he said.