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.

ACES “Hub and SPOKE” approach


Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy and plays a key role in poverty reduction and food security. It contributes 51% of the GDP (26% directly and 25% indirectly), accounts for 60% of employment and 65% of total exports (World Bank, 2018). According to the Agriculture Sector Transformation Strategy (ASTGS) (MoALFI, 2019), the sector has been experiencing annual growth of about 4.8 % annually since 2012.

However, major challenges remain: 34% of the population live under the poverty threshold of US$1.90 a day, 33% of population is food insecure, 26% of children under the age of five are stunted. In Kenya, smallholders produce about 90% of country’s food. These farmers often do not have access to cold-chain solutions to maintain quality, nutritional value, and safety of their produce from farm to fork.

Mainly due to poor post-harvest practices and lack of access to effective cold-chains, an estimated 30 – 40% of fruits and vegetables worth $140 million are lost annually in Kenya (FAO, 2020). Similarly, about 7.3% of milk that is produced is lost through spoilage, again due to poor handling and limited cold chain (Kang’ethe et al, 2020; MoALFI, 2019).

Working with African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in-country and co-funding from UK PACT, we are working in three counties in Kenya to down-select a first SPOKE: Homa Bay, Kiambu, and Kitui, with a focus on fish, dairy, and fruits (mangoes) respectively as the entry point agricultural value chains to guide design of flexible and efficient self-sustaining cold chain services.

Should you be interested in developing a SPOKE, please contact info@coolingafrica.org.