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

Sub-Saharan Africa faces up to 50% loss post-harvest, this has both nutritional and economic consequences. The Centre for Sustainable Cooling recognises the need to reduce food loss and the increasing demand for cooling and cold-chain. The Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) is the epicentre of research, data collection, training, policy support and technology development to meet the global and governmental objectives, based at the University of Rwanda’s Rubirizi Campus.

ACES is a central hub that provides sustainable solutions to cold-chain challenges. Research looks at the entire food harvest, processing storage and distribution explores sustainable, fit-for-market and purpose solutions and business models that ensures quality and safety of food from farm to fork. These models are then applied to other cold-chain service such as vaccines.  The hub will be a central point for research, data collection, training and demonstrations which branches out to specialised outreach centres in Africa including Community Cooling Hubs.

The Campus 

The ACES Campus based in KigaliACES is a first-of-its-kind Centre dedicated to sustainable, smart cold-chain, cooling and post-harvest management. The 4.8 hectare main campus in Kigali, is hosted by the University of Rwanda in Kigali in collaboration with Rwanda Polytechnic (IPRC). SPOKEs are being rolled out throughout Africa to deploy ACES solutions in real-world settings; the first of these is in Kenya.

The programme is developed by the Governments of Rwanda and the United Kingdom (UK), the United Nations Environment Programme and the UK’s Centre for Sustainable Cooling leading a consortium of leading UK universities, and University of Rwanda with more than $20M of seed investment committed by the UK and Rwanda Governments and industry, alongside the campus and physical infrastructure.


ACES will deliver against key global goals including UN SDGs, Paris Climate Agreement and Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and country’s own policy objectives such as Rwanda’s Vision 2050 or Africa’s Agenda 2063.  In this opening speech at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum, Rwandan President Kagame emphasised the need for a just and equitable energy transition. He called for African-led solutions and set out the role Rwanda – as one of the most ambitious green partners on the continent – could play. He highlighted Rwanda’s partnership with the UK on ACES as a concrete example.

Specialised Outreach and Knowledge Establishments (SPOKEs)

Using a “hub and spoke” model, ACES campus in Kigali, Rwanda and a network of Specialised Outreach and Knowledge Establishments (SPOKEs) will develop and disseminate expertise to accelerate sustainable and resilient cooling and cold-chain solutions across Africa.

ACES campus will serve as a “hub” where we undertake collaborative research, test new equipment, develop knowledge, capacity building and training programmes. SPOKEs will be deployed in strategic locations across Africa to demonstrate solutions, provide technical assistance and cascade knowledge to the local markets. The first of these is in Kenya with funding for further SPOKEs secured and market intelligence being developed on potential markets.

Visit the ACES website to find out more