11 December, 2023 Member article

Delivering energy-efficient cold storage solutions across Africa

Nairobi, Kenya – InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has announced the signing of an agreement with Enterprise Project Ventures (EPV), committing €5 million to scale the company’s InspiraFarms™ Cooling offering across Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ghana. The investment will enable InspiraFarms Cooling to pilot its ‘Cooling-as-a-Service’ model which seeks to ensure that services are affordable for customers and will generate the data necessary to unlock future investment.

InfraCo Africa’s new Head of Business Development, Omar Jabri, said, “We are pleased to be making our first investment into ‘first-mile’ cold storage. Access to InspiraFarms Cooling’s energy-efficient packhouses will enable farmers to access vital pre-cooling and cold storage close to where their produce is grown, reducing the significant economic and environmental impact of post-harvest losses, can generate high-quality rural jobs along the chain, and bridge the gap in quality and standards missed by producers for entering export markets, maximising their incomes.”

InspiraFarms Cooling has built its reputation in the market on direct sales and traditional financing agreements. Having recognised the challenges faced by smaller agribusinesses and crop aggregators in meeting the high up-front costs of cold storage ownership, InspiraFarms Cooling, with support from PIDG company InfraCo Africa, is piloting a new Operating Asset Model. The new cold-storage packhouses will be owned by InspiraFarms Cooling with clients paying for ‘Cooling-as-a-Service.’ Fees will be based on tonnes of throughput required, a model that is commonly used near ports, but is currently lacking on or close to farms.

InspiraFarms Cooling CEO, Julian Mitchell said,“I am so pleased to welcome InfraCo Africa’s investment into InspiraFarms Cooling, as there is a complete alignment of mission. This investment symbolises more than financial support; it is a testament to our shared vision towards developing inclusive climate-smart infrastructure that helps with adaptation, minimising food loss, in an energy-efficient way. The investment and collaboration with InfraCo Africa will help build a financing product to bridge this gap, by making the investment in cold chain more affordable to improve access for agribusinesses across Africa. With InfraCo Africa’s backing, I am confident in our ability to install more cooling solutions, a critical part of the journey of Africa transitioning from being a net food importer.”

Food loss is, by an order of magnitude, the biggest contributor of GHG emissions from all the contributors within the post-harvest setting and needs to be addressed as a priority. Therefore, cooling needs to start as close as possible to the point of production, to minimise losses. This becomes even more relevant when you consider that across Africa, 30-50% of produced food never reaches our tables, but is lost after harvest, positioning food systems as the second largest GHG contributor. Beyond the reduced emissions from mitigated food loss, InspiraFarms Cooling designs its on-farm and near-farm solutions with technology that allows up to 25% energy savings. The technology lowers energy consumption, maximising overall resiliency against physical climate risks. The energy-efficient cold rooms are powered by the grid or by hybrid solutions, with modular, lightweight, and expandable designs, delivered as turn-key solutions ready to be installed.

InfraCo Africa’s investment will finance a minimum of five InspiraFarms Cooling facilities operating using the ‘Cooling-as-a-Service’ model. It is anticipated that the pilot facilities will enable InspiraFarms Cooling to generate additional data to support the value of its new delivery model, enabling the business to scale and attract further finance for replication in other markets.

InfraCo Africa