Autogas in Africa - a black scenario?
Hardly a week goes by without news of yet another autogas market blooming somewhere around the world. At a certain point we noticed that no news actually comes from across the Mediterranean Sea, even though there are numerous campaigns to promote the use of LPG in Africa. The thing is, the fuel is often presented as a safer (for health and the environment) replacement for solid domestic fuel (such as charcoal, wood and dung), but not so much as a cheaper and greener motor fuel. Is LPG at all perceived in terms of autogas on the Dark Continent?
To cut a long story short, not really. The only African countries to have any sizeable autogas sectors are Tunisia (10 thousand cars, 49 thousand tonnes annual autogas consumption) and Algeria (200 thousand vehicles, over 380 thousand tonnes annual consumption in 2011 – the effect of state policy started back in the 1980's). Apart from these two countries, autogas' presence is next to none. Reportedly, plans to introduce it in RSA are underway, but at the moment they are little more than plans, with no pilot projects scheduled.
Since the use of autogas in Africa is so scarce, the continent could be seen as the next promised land for the fuel – the untapped potential is vast. Unfortunately, this is merely wishful thinking, for many African countries have insufficient road and refueling infrastructure to even start thinking of introducing a new fuel. And do remember that cars driven south of the Mediterranean Sea are often random selections of what Europe doesn't want or need anymore, most notably 1980's Japanese and German cars. So as much as we'd love it to, Africa may not become an autogas eldorado any day soon, which doesn't mean it actually won't sometime in the future. Patience could be our most powerful weapon here, but of course we can always hope and wish for an unexpected breakthrough. Who knows...
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