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




ACES was established in 2020 by the Governments of Rwanda and the United Kingdom (UK), the United Nations Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative, the Centre for Sustainable Cooling, and the University of Rwanda (UR). ACES is pursued through the Rwanda Cooling Initiative (R-COOL), a joint Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and U4E programme 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 sustainable development.




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

The Centre was officially launched in November 2020 and is hosted by UR at its Rubirizi Campus in Kigali. As it becomes fully operation, ACES will connect local and international experts, investors, private companies, farmers’ organisations, and energy and logistics providers. Living Laboratories will be deployed in strategic locations in rural areas and will conduct research and offer technical assistance, demonstrations and knowledge transfer to rural communities.



Rubirizi site of UR designated for hosting ACES 


Key activities 


ACES is executed in four phases : 

  • Phase I (Q3 2020 – Q2 2021) includes a Cooling Needs Assessment that, along with other existing studies, provides the foundational underpinning and design concept of the Centre. It is concluded with the Primary Research Report and Synthesis Report finalised.
  • Phase II (2021) entails the full design, technology definition, and staffing definition, hiring of key staff, and full design and technology definition of one initial Living Laboratory as a demonstration location in a showcase community in Rwanda.
  • Phase III (2022) includes full staff recruitment, purchase and installation of equipment, and commissioning of the Centre, followed by that of the initial Living Laboratory in Rwanda.
  • Phase IV (2023 onwards) 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, technicians and practitioners, and supporting educational opportunities for university students and other stakeholders by engaging them in research and development projects.



Recent achievements 

ACES has achieved key milestones since its launch in November 2020, including 

  • Completion of a comprehensive cooling needs assessment report 
  • Establishment of the governance structure (Steering Committee, National Technical Advisory Committee) and an Academic Research and Learning Committee (ARLC)
  • Partnership building (underpinned by Memoranda of Understanding) and outreach (press releases, website, social media) 
  • Being featured at world class events 
  • Successive round of fundraising has yielded additional investment


Recognition :


Contacts :

Juliet Kebara : DG, REMA,

Issa Nkurunziza : ACES Lead, UNEP U4E 

Prof. Toby Peters : University of Birmingham

Brian Holuj : Cooling Portfolio Manager, UNEP U4E

Dr. Guillaume Nyagatare, Principal of College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM), UR

Dr. Jean Baptiste Ndahetuye : UR