Safaricom has partnered with UK firm Circle Gas which runs M-Gas in Kenya and Tanzania to launch prepaid gas service, to empower millions of Kenyan homes.
Safaricom invested $22 million (£17m) into M-Gas towards the launch of the pre-paid gas service. It will provide Kenyan households with the flexibility of purchasing gas based on their needs and how much they can afford at a time.
M-Gas is tackling existing access barriers to clean cooking by eradicating both the upfront cost required for a gas cylinder and gas cooker, often more than Sh6,000 and the high refill cost of Sh2,000 per cylinder.
According to Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph “Safaricom’s partnership with M-Gas will for the first time empower millions of Kenyans with affordable access to clean cooking gas, an opportunity we believe has been previously underserved.”
Each M-Gas setup will include a gas cylinder and a 2-burner gas cooker which will be provided to customers at no upfront cost. The gas cylinder will come equipped with an innovative smart meter that will show how much gas a customer has paid for and how much they have remaining.
Payments will be made through M-PESA with the gas automatically disconnecting when a customer has completely consumed the amount paid for.
Safaricom is extending its digital and payment capabilities to M-Gas, powering the smart meter technology on each cylinder that enables customers to have control over how the use and pay for gas.
The smart meter has made it possible for M-Gas to provide a solution tailored to local economic conditions reflecting the daily, kadogo pattern of earning and spending in the country.
Customers will have the flexibility of purchasing gas from as low as Sh 1 through M-PESA, with the cost of providing three meals for a household coming at less than Sh70 per day.
“M-Gas is proud to be working with Safaricom on this pioneering effort to bring affordable, convenient and clean cooking solutions to millions of low-income households in Kenya. Safaricom is a leader in both technology and customer service and we look forward to building on this exciting new partnership,” said Volker Schultz, Head of M-Gas.
Speaking on the advantages of the service, Schultz said, “Gas users will no longer have to grapple with the hassle of managing the replenishment of empty cylinders as the smart meter sends an alert to M-Gas whenever the gas runs low. M-Gas will then dispatch a refilled replacement to the customer, conveniently delivered to the comfort of their homes, at no cost.”
In addition to making gas affordable to more Kenyans, M-Gas will similarly provide millions of Kenyans with the privilege of smoke-free cooking, eliminating the health challenges caused by reliance on smoke-emitting fuels.
The M-Gas solution has been made possible by Safaricom’s Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB IoT) network and M-PESA. Powered by Safaricom’s robust 4G network, NB IoT provides a low-power, mobile connectivity to devices across the country, including to beverage coolers, allowing for remote monitoring and management.