May 2018
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Finlays village electrification
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Marinyn-Elgon village is illuminated.
Marinyn-Elgon village is illuminated.


Caroline Chephorir (centre), with her two sons, Collins (left) and Ian (right)
Caroline Chephorir (centre), with her two sons, Collins (left) and Ian (right)

Last year, Finlays' Kericho tea estate made the decision to invest US$4.2 million in the electrification of the estate workers' villages, in a first-of-its-kind project in Kenya. Because of locational constraints, very few East African tea estate villages are hooked up to the electrical grid and Finlays has been exploring and implementing a range of alternative options to providing power over many years, including solar farms. Thanks to increased government-sponsored rural electrification programmes in Kenya, however, Finlays now has access to the infrastructure to allow it to be one of the first tea companies to provide main electricity in its staff houses. The project is being carried out in conjunction with leading Kenyan mini-grid developer, PowerGen, and will electrify 5,500 homes across 83 villages, with A/C power already provided to 1,200 dwellings; it is scheduled for completion in September.

At the beginning of the wet season in Kericho, the impact of electrification can clearly be seen, as new security lighting ensures paths and communal areas are well lit. Inside the homes, the impact is even greater. One of the beneficiaries is Caroline Chepkorir, 34, who lives at the heart of Finlays' estate in Marinyn-Elgon village. Caroline, who has worked at Finlays for ten years, says: "Ever since my house was connected, my life has really changed. My three children are able to study for longer hours; their grades in school have really come up and they are making good progress". Violet Aoko, 26, another employee at the estate, says: "The electricity has enabled me to watch the TV news in my house for the first time. I am also able to charge my phone in my house at no extra cost; before power came, I used to have to pay to charge it at the local kiosk".

Finlays works continually to improve conditions for its staff. A recent initiative has involved the installation of fuel-saving cooking jikos, which not only reduce firewood requirements, but are quicker and safer to cook on than traditional stoves. All estate employees and their immediate dependents have access to free primary and secondary schooling on-site, and to free primary and secondary healthcare.
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Finlays village electrification
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Swire News May 2018 issue
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