European companies accused of exporting dirty fuel to African countries including Ghana

Dirty fuel is also a major cause of the short lifespan of cars in Africa compared to those in other regions.

European companies have been accused of shipping diesel that would have been considered too dirty for Europe to Africa.

Ghana has been named among several countries in a report by Public Eye where these companies ship sub-standard fuel to. The companies that have been named are Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy; that is because they hold shares in fuel retailers.

In West Africa especially, the report said “Vitol, Trafigura and Addax & Oryx ruthlessly exploit weak regulatory standards and make the local urban populations pay with their health. Public Eye researchers drew fuel at local pumps in eight countries.


“The result was shocking: as our analysis revealed, the diesel samples contained up to 378 times more sulphur than is permitted in Europe. Furthermore, other toxic substances, such as benzene and polycyclical aromatic hydrocarbons, were also found in concentrations that are also banned in Europe.”

However these companies have not been accused of breaking any laws in the countries in which the fuel is shipped to. That is because many of these countries have very lax regulations, some of which until recently had existed since the colonial era. Refineries in Africa also do not have the technical knowledge to reduce sulphur levels.

Sulphur is a major contributor to air pollution which the World Health Organisation has said account for many diseases such as cancer and heart and respiratory illness.


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) air pollution is one of the world’s largest threat to human health, claiming nearly 6.5 million lives every year. That makes it the fourth-largest threat to human health after high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking.


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