October 4, 2023


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Rwanda and UK Governments join IFC to advance Africa cold chain progress

Government representatives from Rwanda and the UK joined the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to sign a Statement of Cooperation at COP27 to help accelerate 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 Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, whose ministry oversees the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Minister of State The Rt. Hon. Lord 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.

ACES had already announced at COP 27 that it will work with global cold chain provider Carrier to help advance cooling development and training in Africa.

ACES goal is to accelerate deployment of sustainable (environmentally, economically and socially), 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.

Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment said: “the signed statement of cooperation indicates commitment of our two countries, financing institutions, academia, civil society and others joining hands to find sustainable solutions to the challenges that are impacting our environment.

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.

Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, Vice-President, IFC, commented: “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.

“IFC will join REMA and Defra in supporting the Centre’s mission through IFC’s TechEmerge Sustainable Cooling Program. As part of the UK-IFC partnership supporting sustainable cooling innovations, this program has helped identify, pilot, and field test more than 60 innovative cooling technologies in agribusiness, hospitality, and retail since 2019.”

The TechEmerge Program will facilitate knowledge sharing, connections, and partnerships between innovators and ACES, which will help them deploy their innovative technologies at scale across Africa.
“Our goal is to tap into our collective expertise to help accelerate innovation in the cooling sector, which is key to achieving sustainable growth and improving people’s lives, particularly in emerging markets where the needs are greatest, added Mr Nyirinkindi.

“From reducing food waste to ensuring that vaccines can reach communities while also reducing emissions, cooling innovations can have a transformative impact across Africa and beyond. Together, we can make a difference, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of our important work.” 

More than 475 million 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.

Toby Peters, Centre for Sustainable Cooling Director and Professor of Cold Economy, University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University commented: “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. Global leaders have recently agreed that the only way to overcome food insecurity is by working together to create innovative partnerships within the global community.”

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 connect experts, investors, agri-food business, farmer cooperatives, and energy or logistics providers to deliver sustainable cooling. It also follows an MoU signed earlier this year with the Indian State of Telangana for a Telangana Centre of Excellence.  The UK and UN Environment technical assistance programme is funded by DEFRA.

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

As outgoing COP 26 President, the Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, said when he visited ACES during CHOGM: “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.”

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