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Africa Air Quality

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource. See updated information on EPA's work in Africa.

Africa has some of the highest rates of population growth and urbanization in the world, with two mega cities: Lagos, with a population of 13.4M and Cairo, with a population of 10.6M. Currently, 38% of Africa's population is living in urban areas. It is estimated that by 2030, 54% of its population will be in urban areas.

Because of the increased urbanization in Africa, the rise in vehicle emissions, and the trend towards greater industrialization, urban air quality in the continent is worsening. In many countries, the use of leaded gasoline is still widespread, and vehicle emission controls are nonexistent. Indoor air pollution is widespread, mostly from the burning of biomass fuels.

Air sampling in the eastern part of the U.S. shows transboundary impacts from Sahara dust carrying pollutants and pathogens.

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Three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in Africa are:

  • South Africa, at 99.4MMT carbon or 42% of Africa's total
  • Nigeria, at 27.1MMT carbon (48% from transport sector)
  • Egypt, at 31.6MMT

According to the IPCC, Africa is the region most vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

EPA has a variety of projects in Africa, designed to focus on public health risks, especially to children, from rapid urban and industrial development. These include:

  • Lead Phase-out: Through the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, EPA has supported regional and sub-regional workshops and conferences, provides technical expertise, and directly supports national activities. EPA recently sponsored UNEP training for over 300 petrol attendants in Kenya on the benefits of unleaded gasoline and is supporting a public outreach campaign that is ongoing on TV, radio and newspaper print.
  • Air Quality Monitoring Capacity-Building project, which provides provide hands-on training, monitoring equipment and data analysis, and is being piloted in Accra, Ghana and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

  • Urban Air Quality in South Africa, which is building capacity for implementation of proposed air legislation and providing training on broad air quality management and emissions inventories.

  • Vehicle Emissions Inventory: EPA and its partners the University of California and Riverside and the International Sustainable Systems Research Center Exit EPA disclaimer beta-tested the International Vehicle Emissions Model in Nairobi, where most passenger vehicles are 7-22 years old. The model will help cities and regions to develop emissions inventories to:
    • Focus control strategies and transportation planning on those that are most effective;
    • Predict how different strategies will affect local emissions; and
    • Measure progress in reducing emissions over time.(link to Web site with model and with specific emission inventory for Nairobi)
  • Information for Africa Climate Technology Transfer (iACTT) Exit EPA disclaimer , including increased access to Africa-relevant information on technologies and approaches. This project is being piloted in Senegal, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa

Explore EPA's work in Africa

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