The new Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES) has taken a major step forward in Rwanda with a US$3.5 (£2.4 million) million funding boost from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
ACES will help get African farmers’ produce to market quickly and efficiently – reducing food waste, boosting profits and creating jobs, as well as looking to improve cold-chains for vaccines and health, now recognised globally as a key challenge for COVID-19 immunisation.
The Centre is bringing together energy, technology, finance and policy expertise from the UK and in-country. It offers an opportunity for commercial partners to develop and demonstrate pathways to delivering affordable, lowest carbon emissions cooling and cold-chain systems while meeting Africa’s social and economic cooling needs. It will provide teaching and industrial collaboration to put into action integrated sustainable cooling solutions into action.
The contribution from DEFRA will support the Centre’s design and technology kit-out, the work of the British university partners (Birmingham, Heriot-Watt, Cranfield, London South Bank), the University of Rwanda and its hiring of the first ACES dedicated academics as host of the Centre, and the UN’s Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency (U4E) whose award-winning Rwanda Cooling Initiative with the Rwandan Government provides ACES’ foundation.
‘Living Labs’ will act as the deployment and implementation armsshowcasinghow solutions developed at the ACES hub in Kigali can be applied by communities and offer on-the-ground technical and business assistance as an enabling environment for sustainable cold chain to thrive. The first Living Lab in rural Rwanda is anticipated for launch in 2022. Opportunities for additional Living Labs are being explored with other African governments to scale-up the reach of ACES.
Cranfield will be delivering its expertise in sustainable and resilient food systems with the objective of reducing food loss and waste and maintaining the nutritional quality of food across the supply chain.
Dr Natalia Falagán, Lecturer in Food Science and Technology in the Plant Science Laboratory at Cranfield University and co-designer of this initiative, said: “Improving the cool and cold supply chain in Africa could be a major boost to both the environment and the economy through reduced food loss and waste. We are delighted to be adding Cranfield’s expertise in postharvest management and food science to this vital project.”
Source: Cranfield University