Ethiopia to ban importation of fuel-powered cars to focus on green mobility

February 8, 2024
2 min read
Electric vehicle charging

The news: 

  • In a statement in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, Alemu Sime, the Ethiopian Minister of Transport and Logistics, announced that the government had decided to allow only electric vehicles into the country, banning gasoline and diesel-powered cars. 
  • Sime made the announcement, which many on the continent have described as daring, during the ministry’s six-month performance report presentation to the Urban Development and Transport Standing Committee in the House of People’s Representatives — Ethiopian Parliament.
  • The Minister also disclosed that it had completed Ethiopia’s Logistics Master Plan, which entails the strategic implementation of “Green Transport” in the East African country.

The proposed prohibition is expected to be strictly enforced, with existing fossil-powered vehicle owners subjected to rigorous smoke tests. Cars that fail the test will be deemed unfit for the road and removed accordingly. 

Given the country's early adoption of electric vehicles, Minister Sime stated that the Ethiopian government is working on a high-priority plan to install electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure throughout the country. 

The government is said to have also implemented electric car exemptions for value-added tax (VAT), excise tax, and surtaxes in 2022, highlighting its readiness and commitment to the policy. 

According to the Minister, Ethiopia spent €6 billion ($7.6 billion) on petrol and diesel imports in 2023, necessitating the ban. Additionally, the pollution levels in city centres due to these cars are reportedly off the charts. 

Minister Sime maintained that the only viable way to reduce fuel importation costs and pollution levels is an immediate ban on importing non-electric vehicles — old or new.

Many in Ethiopia are seeing this move by the government as part of its green initiatives as contained in the parliament-approved Ten Years Development Plan of Ethiopia (2021-2030) to bring at least 152,800 electric vehicles into the country by 2030. 

Ethiopia reportedly has about 7,200 EVs out of 1.2 million cars plying its roads. 

The developing news leaves many unanswered questions. For example, it is not clear when the new prohibition policy will take effect or whether it will affect fossil-powered vehicles already in transit from overseas. 

The price of EVs is another issue that begs many questions because it may be difficult for most Ethiopians to afford them. There is also the discussion about the tiny percentage of people in the county who can afford EVs. 

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