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Rwanda and UK governments join IFC to advance Africa’s cold chain progress

Government representatives from Rwanda and the UK have joined the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to sign a Statement of Cooperation at COP27 to help accelerate the scaling up of innovative cooling technologies in Africa through the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain (ACES)

Rwanda’s Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, whose ministry oversees the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Minister of State Richard Benyon from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, vice-president, IFC signed the agreement at the global climate change event in Egypt.

At COP 27, ACES had already announced that it would work with global cold chain provider Carrier to help advance cooling development and training in Africa. The goal of ACES is to accelerate deployment of sustainable, resilient, temperature-controlled, end-to-end connectivity for food and health products. This simultaneously protects the quality and safety, minimises loss, and creates and provides equitable value to all stakeholders.

“With ACES, we seek to deploy the best cooling and cold-chain solutions, which are critical to underpinning a prosperous, healthy, integrated, and climate-friendly food supply chain globally. There is no doubt that ACES will contribute to achieving the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal protocol, Rwanda vision 2050 and Africa 2063 agenda,” said Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya.

“Working through academic institutions both in the UK and in Rwanda, and with the UN Environment Programme, ACES is accelerating the deployment of innovative cooling technologies in Africa to improve livelihoods, boost health, food, and nutritional security, and fuel economic growth,” commented IFC vice president, Emmanuel Nyirinkindi. “IFC will join REMA and Defra in supporting the centre’s mission through IFC’s TechEmerge Sustainable Cooling Programme. As part of the UK-IFC partnership supporting sustainable cooling innovations, this programme has helped identify, pilot, and field test more than 60 innovative cooling technologies in agribusiness, hospitality, and retail since 2019.”

The TechEmerge Programme will facilitate knowledge sharing, connections, and partnerships between innovators and ACES, which will help them, deploy their innovative technologies at scale across Africa. More than 475mn tons of the world’s food can be saved annually with effective refrigeration, and more than 50% of all perishable food loss could be avoided by using cold chain technology.

The University of Birmingham plays a leading role in ACES, which is developed with the Governments of UK and Rwanda and UN Environment Programme at the University of Rwanda. “Turning food loss into nutritionally available food is essential for Africa’s sustainable development, as well as building the food systems that are used to feed people in times of uncertainty,” commented Toby Peters, Centre for Sustainable Cooling director and professor of Cold Economy, University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University.

The University of Birmingham and the Indian State of Haryana recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a Haryana Centre of Excellence on crop post-harvest management and sustainable cold chain. The agreement builds on ACES and will conduct state-of-the-art applied research and provide capacity building and training, an innovation and business hub and technology testing/demonstration centre. It will also connect experts, investors, agri-food business, farmer cooperatives, and energy or logistics providers to deliver sustainable cooling. 

ACES has been highlighted at COP27 through a series of side-events. Peters presented at the Clean Heating and Cooling Forum - exploring policy, technology, and models needed across both the sustainable cooling and clean heat challenges.

During his visit to ACES during CHOGM, COP26 president, Alok Sharma MP said, “ACES is a demonstration of how we can work together, to help tackle rising emissions and keep alive the goal of limiting average global temperature rises. Cooling and refrigeration are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, especially in developing countries. But this challenge gives us the opportunity to develop innovative, energy efficient technologies of the future.”