top of page

9 Productive Use Pilots in 6 African Countries



IFAD Grant No. 2000001636 entitled Green Technologies to Facilitate Development of Value Chains for Perishable Crops and Animal Products (GreenTech) was a $2.2M multiyear program, approved in December 2017, with the objective to: “.. strengthen smallholders’ capacities to enhance food security and nutrition by sustainably reducing post-harvest losses, while enhancing market opportunities for their produce.” The grant was focused realizing the objective by finding sustainable, market-based,  Productive Use solar powered refrigeration and freezing solutions. This focus was implemented by executing nine different Productive Use pilots in six countries in East and Southern Africa (listed below). Each project is summarized in the Projects section with hyperlinks to detailed reports, primary research data and other related information.

  1. Rwanda

    1. 500 Liter Bulk Milk Coolers for Milk Collection Points and Milk Selling Points

    2. Rehabilitation of a Solar+Storage System at a Milk Collection Center

    3. Fridges for the Smallholder Dairy Sector

  2. Tanzania

       4. Fridges and Freezers for the Artisanal Fishing and Smallholder Dairy Sectors

  3. Mozambique

       5. 160 Liter Freezers for the Artisanal Fisheries Sector

  4. Zimbabwe

       6. Walk-in Cooler for Smallholder Farmer Cooperatives

  5. Malawi

       7. Walk-in Cooler for Women Farmers

       8. Solar Dryers for Crop Preservation and Value Adding Processing

  6. Kenya

       9. Cargo Tricycle Mounted Fridges Operated by Youth as Mobile Selling Points


Overall, the conclusion was that while the Productive Use applications delivered their anticipated benefits of increasing incomes and improving livelihoods, they could not be delivered in sustainable manner. The chief impediments to scaling were that the delivered and supported cost of market-based solutions was approximately double of what the customers could afford. In addition, the Last Mile Distributors lacked the finances and operational capabilities to sell and support more expensive and complex technological solutions. The upshot being that ongoing grant funding and subsidies are needed in order to further advance the introduction and spread of solar powered Productive Use refrigeration. While the grant did not achieve the overarching objective of sustainable and scalable solutions, it did meet or exceed all of its tangible goals except Impact (see table below). The program also resulted in a number of incremental advancements in solar cooling technology. The pilots significantly advanced the knowledge base of the sector which have been documented in Lessons Learned reports made widely available as well as disseminated at the 2022 Off-Grid Solar Forum in Kigali. Other key findings are:


  • The market for productive use refrigeration is fragmented and largely latent; the demand side is not pent-up

  • Productive use solutions are less effective without access to market and value chains as part of the offer

  • Post installation preliminary finding indicate consistent higher income, repayment rates higher than SHSs and high customer satisfaction

  • Productive use solutions are less effective without access to market and value chains as part of the offer

  • Last Mile Distributors are need to have long term funding partner to expand their business to include Productive Use solutions as well as understand Best Practices and Critical Success Factors

  • A success factor is being able to leverage and collaborate with NGO programs

  • Productive use refrigeration solutions are the first link of a larger cold chain

  • Productive use solar refrigeration efforts needs to be linked to and  coordinated with a larger scale,  systemic effort to establish a green  cold chain in Africa

  • Each country needs end-end pilot programs, not piecemeal projects

  • Partners need to be funded, not projects

  • Partners’ initiative seems to fade away if funding goes away and they have to assume being the driving force





Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page