The five year Village Electrification Project is the first of its kind in our industry, and its completion in December 2019 is a highlight of last year’s work under the banner of Empowered Communities.
The purpose of the project is to supply fairly priced, reliable electricity to employees living on the Kericho estates. The completed project has successfully connected 5,651 houses within 86 villages to a centralised grid, which operates as a private utility using the latest smart metering technology.
Households use a mobile payment system called MPesa to pre-pay for their power, which also avoids any issues around debt collection. In addition to household lighting and power, Finlays provides security lights along the roads, which have improved safety for residents at night. To date, all villages are connected to a central grid, and approximately 30-40% of the electricity is from our own hydro and biogas renewable generation, while the rest is sourced from the national grid.
We are proud of the positive impact that this project has played in the tea industry. It is the first of its kind for a large agro-industry, to build and run a private utility network for the benefit of the community. There is a growing understanding that reliable access to electricity is a catalyst for improving living standards, including supplying safe energy and enabling children to do their homework in the evenings.
The project has had an unwavering commitment to safety, which was implemented through ￼technology, design, and installation, up to internationally recognised standards, as well as through education. We work with our partners PowerGen to provide training courses for all employees who now have electricity in their homes for the first time.