The Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold chain (ACES)

The Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES) was established in 2020 by the Governments of Rwanda (GoR) and the United Kingdom (UK), the United Nations Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency (UNEP U4E) initiative, the Centre for Sustainable Cooling, and a range of academic institutions.

ACES is pursued through the Rwanda Cooling Initiative (R-COOL), a joint program of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and U4E to advance the country’s sustainable development priorities and ambitions for enhanced collaboration on sustainable cooling throughout the continent. It is in line with Government commitments on climate change, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal protocol, and overall sustainable development.



The mission of ACES is to develop and accelerate uptake of sustainable cold chain solutions in the agriculture and health sectors. ACES will economically empower farmers, increase export revenues, enhance job creations in rural areas, mitigate climate and environment impacts, and foster low-carbon development. Food cold chains integrated with other cold-dependent services such as vaccines will be demonstrated in showcase “Living Laboratories” in Rwanda and throughout Africa in the coming years.

The Centre has been officially launched and is hosted by the University of Rwanda (UR) at Rubirizi campus, Kigali. It will connect local and international experts, investors, private companies, farmers’ organisations, and energy and logistics providers. Living Labs will be deployed in strategic locations in rural areas and will conduct research and offer technical assistance, demonstrations and knowledge transfer to the farmers and rural communities.

Key activities

ACES is executed in four phases:

  • Phase I (Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 funded and on-going) a Cooling Needs Assessment that along with other existing studies, provides the foundational underpinning and design concept of the Centre. Concludes when the Primary Research Report and Synthesis Report are finished.
  • Phase II (2021) entails the full design, technology definition, and staffing definition, hiring of Director and Deputy Director of the Centre, establishment of a legal entity, and full design and technology definition of one initial Living Laboratory as a demonstration location in a showcase community in Rwanda.
  • Phase III (2022, subject to funding) includes full staff recruitment, purchase and installation of equipment, and commissioning of the Centre followed by and the initial Living Laboratory in Rwanda.
  • Phase IV (2023 onwards, subject to funding) will scale-up to pan-African Living Laboratories with demonstrations of ACES solutions in communities in numerous countries, demonstrating new technologies and business models and feeding lessons learned back to the Centre in Kigali. In the meanwhile, the hub in Kigali will train trainers from throughout Africa, enhancing the expertise of academics and technicians / practitioners, and supporting educational opportunities for university students and other stakeholders by engaging them in research and development projects.


The ACES builds on the experiences from the Centre for Sustainable Cooling at the University of Birmingham, the African Centre of Excellence in Energy for Sustainable Development (ACEESD) and Regional Centre of Excellence for Vaccines, Immunisation and Health Supply Chain Management (RCESCM) at the University of Rwanda and India Centre of Agricultural Excellence in Post-Harvest Management and Cold Chain, and U4E's portfolio of cooling projects throughout Africa.


Key documents

  1. ACES flyer
  2. Other documents will be published later



Juliet Kebara, DG, REMA,

Issa Nkurunziza: ACES Lead, UNEP U4E

Prof. Toby Peters: University of Birmingham

Brian Holuj: Cooling Portfolio Manager, UNEP U4E

Dr. Jean Baptiste Ndahetuye, UR  


Press release

Africa's clean cooling centre of excellence moves closer to boosting farmer's livelihoods's-clean-cooling-centre-of-excellence.aspx

Proposed ‘green’ cooling centre seeks to cut post-harvest losses

Why optimized cold-chains could save a billion COVID vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine could revolutionize cold storage around the world

Centre of Excellence in Rwanda aims to support African farmers and rural communities