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Company helps to share the fruits of Belt and Road

By Edith Mutethya | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2017-10-29 14:25

Keda Clean Energy Co, a high-tech company based in Guangdong province, and Sunda International Group, an import and export trading company, are paving the way to enjoying the fruits of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative.

In 2016, armed with $80 million in capital, the two companies set up Twyford Ceramics Co, a ceramic tiles manufacturing company in Kenya's Kajiado county, 65 kilometres south of Nairobi.

After barely a year in operation, the company is the largest ceramics factory in East Africa and has a 70 percent market share in Kenya.

 Company helps to share the fruits of Belt and Road

Workers at Twyford Ceramics Co, a ceramic tiles manufacturing company in Kenya's Kajiado county. Edith Mutethya / China Daily

However, Li Ruiqin, the company's managing director, says demand for ceramic tiles exceeds supply, so there is a need to install more production lines.

Toward that end, the company is building another production line that is expected to be operational in January. The initial production line has daily capacity of 30,000 square meters, and the second one is expected to have a similar daily output.

"With the two production lines in operation, we will be able to produce more than 20 million sq m by the end of 2018," he says.

So far, the company has created more than 1,500 jobs, and the number is expected to reach over 2,000, not including the jobs at the mines developed by the company in surrounding areas.

The company also plans to build factories in other countries, including Ghana and Tanzania.

"We understand that it is important for us to set up a good relationship with the local community we settle down in," Li says.

He says the company gives local people first priority in employment. Additionally, it helps set up a local community committee consisting of elders, with whom they discuss various issues geared toward enhancing a good relationship between the company and the community.

When the company moved in, small businesses in the surrounding area got a boost, and land prices in the area increased by 20 to 30 percent, according to Li.

Company management representatives visited families in the Inkiwanjani area in January and shared their sustainability vision and how they plan to work with the community.

"The elders wished us well and gave blessings to our company initiatives that are aimed at uplifting them. The elders were specifically grateful to the company for offering job opportunities to their young people, thereby reducing the unemployment rate in the area," Li says.

To help improve local infrastructure conditions, the company also repaired a 5-kilometer stretch of road in the Inkiwanjani area as part of its corporate social responsibility activities.

"This initiative has been applauded by the community, since it has solved the problem experienced during the rainy season. It has also helped the small-scale farmers in delivering their goods to the market at the right time and at reduced cost," Li says.

Noting that Kajiado is an arid area and suffers from water scarcity and drought, the company plans to help local residents to dig two wells.

Twyford has also launched a scholarship program targeting high school, college and university students. In January, 35 students benefited from the program.

Having identified a gap in decent housing in the Orinie area, where the company has its mining operation, it decided to invest nearly $20,000 to help improve the living standards there.

The local community is predominantly made up of herders who don't usually build permanent houses, and most of the houses are small and prone to leaking.

"However, we encourage local residents to improve their living conditions through hard work," Li says.

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