New refrigeration tech a boon for Africa

Some African countries are building a future to mitigate against the harms of climate change, particularly on food security and sustainable energy sources. 

Rwanda and Kenya are the latest countries to benefit from programmes that are expected to boost their capacity to build energy-efficient, sustainable refrigeration for food and vaccine supply chains. 

This is happening through a network that provides technologies and innovative business models in rural areas, all in a bid to help African countries meet their nationally determined commitments by 2030.

The outreach programme will focus on the manufacturing sector, which provides up to 60% of inputs for agri-industries that experience weakness at the cold-storage point.

With the advent of Covid-19, the health sector has been put under pressure and the outreach aims to address Kenya’s fragmented vaccine supply cold-chain. The programme is also expected to benefit Kenya’s agricultural sector, which contributes up to 26% to the economy and 62% of employment. About 30% of food in Kenya is lost between farms and the market because of the lack of cold-chain storage capacity. 

The University of Rwanda’s Kigali campus received a $3.3-million funding boost from the UK’s department of environment, food and rural affairs to kick-start the programme. It will be operated through the African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (Aces), a pan-continental network of outreach centres that are a part of a collaboration between the Rwandan government, the University of Birmingham and UN environmental programme’s United for Efficiency.

There are also plans to replicate the Aces model in India, where cold-chain emissions could double by 2027 without active intervention. The Indian government has committed to deliver 40% of its total electricity generation from clean energy sources by 2030, to lower its emissions. The model is expected to help the country to achieve its nationally determined commitments, which are a part of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  

The UN’s United for Efficiency programme brings together international and localised energy, technology, finance, capacity building and policy expertise.

“Building on developed-world sustainable technology and localising this to developing world environments with the skills and business models needed will help ensure the transition to sustainable cooling meets the needs of African supply chains and operating environments,” said Toby Peters, professor of cold economy at the University of Birmingham, in a press release by the university.This model supports the Kenyan government’s Vision 2030, which prioritises agriculture, health, manufacturing and affordable housing.

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Marcia Zali
Marcia Zali is an award winning journalist

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