Cleaning up our act for Africa

Cleaning up our act for Africa

In Africa, climate change contributes to mounting food insecurity, poverty, and displacement. Luckily, many companies are facing these challenges head on.

Climate change, including rising sea levels and the melting of East Africa’s iconic glaciers, has severe ramifications across Africa. “In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product by up to 3% by 2050,” says Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission. So, what are some of the major industry players doing to arrest this slide? 


TotalEnergies Lubrifiants’ Quartz Xtra range provides up to 4% fuel savings, while its recently introduced high density polyethylene (HDPE) cans are made from 50% recycled plastics and are 100% recyclable, multiple times.

“We are committed to offering partners and customers solutions that promote a circular economy,” says Jean Parizot, automotive director of TotalEnergies Lubrifiants.


Diesel fuels containing bio-components can facilitate CO2 savings of 70 to 95% compared to conventional diesel. There is also a growing range of paraffinic fuels, including those produced from biological residuals and waste materials like hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). These vegetable oils, once converted into hydrocarbons, can be used as standalone fuels or added to diesel fuel in any quantity.

Biofuels such as HVO are already available on the international market, and it is likely that their share in the European energy market for road transport could increase to between 20 and 30% within 10 years.

Volkswagen is one company taking advantage of this cleaner combustion, with plans to reduce the 2018 carbon footprint of its European fleet by 40% by 2030. While this involves an increasing focus on electric vehicles (EVs), it also includes the development of existing combustion engines.

Select models have, since June 2021, been approved for operation with paraffinic diesel fuels, in accordance with EU standard EN 15940. “The use of paraffinic fuels is a sensible additional option, particularly for companies with a mixed fleet made up of models with electric and conventional drives,” explains Prof. Thomas Garbe, head of petrol and diesel fuels at Volkswagen.


Shell has a history of lubricant innovation, as one of the first suppliers to market cleaner, purer lubricants made from natural gas. As customer needs evolved, Shell continued to innovate, extending its Shell E-Fluids portfolio to support battery electric and fuel cell electric powertrains for all passenger and commercial vehicles.

With Shell Lubricants’ target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 in mind, Shell launched one of the lubricants industry’s largest carbon-neutral programmes in 2021. Customers in key global markets can choose carbon-neutral lubricants across select brands, with the aim to offset annual emissions of over 200 million litres of advanced synthetic lubricants. Shell expects to compensate for around 700,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions per year – equivalent to removing about 340,000 cars from the road for a year.


While many of these developments are being implemented abroad, they do provide a glimmer of hope for Africa. Sacko notes that by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people will likely be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat in Africa, in the absence of adequate response measures.

Much is being done, but there’s a long way to go to redress the balance, and the oils, fuels, and lubricants sector has a central role to play as we try to clean up our act. 

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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