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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 8 Sep 2008
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Whats the latest on Unleaded in West Africa.

Could anyone who has been in Ghana recently remember if they have seen unleaded petrol for sale. I will be using a petrol stove which runs much better if it can get unleaded and this time i will be carrying a Honda 4 stroke generator with alternator to keep my fridge battery topped up when not travelling. Honda state only unleaded for this. At the moment it looks as if the last place on my route where i can get unleaded is Morocco and western sahara. At worst I could stock up there, but if i can get some in any of the following: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and most importantly Ghana it would help a lot.
All advice i have seen so far states no unleaded in West Africa at all. So i really need info from people who have travelled overland via my intended route to give an update please.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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it's pretty much everywhere. where are you getting your advice?
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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Dougies seen it.

Hi Dougie, i did a search for "unleaded" in sub saharan Africa and it mentioned there was none in WA. Where have you found it mate?.

Sorry it didnt say that. What i was reading was the long post about prices of fuel in africa and so when i didnt see a mention of unleaded in other than Morocco western sahara Tunisia etc i assumed it still wasnt available elswhere..

Last edited by DustyBin; 8 Sep 2008 at 19:24. Reason: info update.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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hmm.. pretty sure I was putting unleaded in the tank. Morocco, Mauri, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Niger, Burkina, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad. Apart from one stretch in Mauri, it was every 200 miles at least.

2005, but I doubt they'll have taken the pumps away.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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Thanks Dougie, I thought it was about time it reached the dark continent. Just could not find anywhere on the hubb where anyone had actually confirmed it. 8 weeks to go.

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Old 8 Sep 2008
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no worries. enjoy your trip.
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  #7  
Old 8 Sep 2008
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"Sans plomb" is readily available in Morocco yes. After that, I have no idea where DougieB got his fuel. Because when I was there less than a year ago, "sans plomb ?" would always be followed by a shaking of heads.

Didn't go to Ghana so I wouldn't know about the situation there.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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prepared to be correct. but then that leaves me thinking leaded or unleaded, it makes no difference to a bike engine. as the number of newer bikes (which have been unleaded for years anyway) riding through west africa is quite high. Do KTM's (togo?) really run on four-star? are we getting confused with low-octane and 95 octane unleaded?

although I'm pretty sure Dakhla and the end of the Tambacounda/Bamako stretch I had a sans plomb conversation and got some. though I never tasted it, and a green labelled pump with sans plomb writing doesn't actually mean that's what's pumping into your tank.
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Old 9 Sep 2008
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There are still obviously conflicting views on this issue so lets have input from any other overland travellers who have travelled through West Africa please.



Just found the following statement from Tim Culliss 2 days ago.
"Most of the vehicles in West Africa are either diesel or very old petrol engines. I didn't see any unleaded for sale.

Tim"

Last edited by DustyBin; 9 Sep 2008 at 15:15. Reason: addional info
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Old 9 Sep 2008
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The vast majority of Africa, including most of sub saharan west Africa had banned leaded petrol by the start of this year according to the two attached UNEP sources.

http://www.unep.org/pcfv/PDF/LeadReport-Brochure.pdf

http://www.unep.org/pcfv/PDF/MapSSAf...ad-Feb2008.pdf

In Morocco you can buy both unleaded and leaded because the Moroccans, along with a few other North African states havent yet banned leaded petrol. In principle most of the fuel you buy in West Africa should therefore be unleaded, although not always of good quality. You will often also get large variations in the octane rating outside capital cities. Most pumps will also not make any mention of unleaded fuel and will only display the sign 'essence'.

Hence the reason you generally always get a blank look if you ask for 'sans plumb' is because there is no choice - it should IN PRINCIPLE only be unleaded. Although as Dougie correctly mentioned, often you will have no idea of what is actually flowing into your tank.....
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Old 10 Sep 2008
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Hi,

my experience from driving Morocco - Westsahara - Mali - Burkina - Niger - Benin - Togo:

NO UNLEADED PETROL SOUTH OF AL AYOUN (Westsahara).

I drove in 2007.
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Old 10 Sep 2008
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so, for the people who didn't manage to find unleaded and therefore drove through west africa (4000/6000 miles?) on leaded. What did you drive, what happened to your valve seats?

Agree with Matt as to why 'sans plomb' would get blank stares, if as we suspect it all is lead free. I think in WA you tend to look for high octane ratings as the primary piece of information about the fuel you're buying. Which is nothing to do with lead.

confused.... surely there must be someone in WA right now, photo of a petrol pump (at a station, not a roadside glass jar)?
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Old 10 Sep 2008
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I drove a Range Rover 4.6 HSE.

My garage told me that the catalyser would get clogged and start burning, if I used leaded fuel on that car.

The truth is: the car is still driving in WA today, after more than 10.000km on leaded fuel.

And: every local in WA is driving a European (or Japanese) car on leaded petrol without problems.
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Old 10 Sep 2008
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.. or you just didn't realise you were using unleaded?

your cat would be damaged on leaded fuel. the internet says Ghana's Tema refinery phased out leaded fuel in 2004.

also back in 2003, Africa on track for phasing out leaded fuel by 2006

"Following a meeting in Nairobi on 17 October, three additional Sub-Saharan nations have become the latest to join an effort to rid the continent of leaded road vehicle fuel. Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mauritania have announced that they have set a date of January 2004 for phasing out lead from their fuel.

The continent is now on track for a complete phase out by 2005 or early 2006 in the case of some countries, such as South Africa. The move is being orchestrated by the Partnership for Clean Vehicles and Fuels, founded at the August 2002 World Summit on Sustainability held in Johannesburg (see related story). The group's members have pledged nearly US$2.5 million for the project."
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Old 10 Sep 2008
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... it is of course possible that they have changed to UNLEADED fuel all over WA, without really knowing it themselves.

When I asked at the bigger petrol stations in Westsahara, I was told that there was only leaded fuel south of Al Ayoun. I discussed the same in Mali with a car mechanic. And when I asked at one of the biggest overland stores in Germany, they told me the same.

However, as you quote, and as can be read on Gasoline - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, officially, there is no more leaded fuel in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Whatever the truth is: a car traveller needn't worry. The car will work on either leaded or unleaded in the same way (just take out - or kill - the cat).
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