The Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES), so far, has mobilised $25 million (over Rwf30 billion) funding so as to become fully operational by 2024, The New Times has learnt. The centre was established to lead the way in the development and roll-out of affordable, sustainable, resilient and equitable cooling and cold chain solutions for agriculture, dairy, fisheries and health sectors, especially for produced vaccine cold chain. ALSO READ: Rwanda secures EU funding for vaccine production A vaccine cold chain is a network of cold rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes, and carriers that keep vaccines at just the right temperature during each link on the long journey from the manufacturing line to the syringe. ALSO READ: Five things to know about Rwanda’s vaccine manufacturing ambitions “The centre will improve vaccine and pharma supply. It will help to move locally made vaccines around the country and Africa,” Toby Peters, an expert in the cooling economy working on the centre, said on October 19, 2023, during a conference in Kigali. He said that currently there is a loss of 25 to 50 per cent of food and vaccines due to the lack of efficient cold chain in Africa. The project funded by the UK government and other partners will deliver on-the-ground support and training for farmers and fishers, and their communities, from designing sustainable off- and on-grid community cooling and cold chain solutions, market access and connectivity, the value of and use of telemetrics and data logging, developing financeable business models, through to the day-to-day operations and postharvest management. ALSO READ: Local farmers lose 30% in post-harvest processes “The centre will empower farmers with the right solutions, financial models, and reduce post-harvest losses, increase export revenues, and enhance job creation in rural areas,” he noted. ALSO READ: How can Rwanda reduce post-harvest losses? Peters said that the cold chain technologies could help millions of smallholder farmers and address food insecurity. “The Government of Rwanda provided 200 hectares of land for camps and farms where we can test the technologies in the system, from farm to consumers. We can also demonstrate to farmers, provide training with farmers, and take them out into the communities. “This is a hub where we can try out new technologies; we can support companies developing them. It was made possible by the vision of the Government of Rwanda,” Peters said. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment, emphasised that incorporating the cold chain into critical infrastructure is essential for lifting millions of impoverished individuals in both rural and urban areas out of poverty and hunger, with the goal of expediting economic growth. “The cooling and cold chain centre was founded, targeting to reduce food and vaccine losses,” she noted. She said the lack of effective refrigeration results in the loss of an astounding 526 million tonnes of food production annually, which could feed an estimated 1 billion people. “This food loss not only represents an immense economic loss for farmers but also contributes to water and resource waste and greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.